Elton John has spoken out against a proposed law in the US state of Georgia, which would give business owners a “license to discriminate” against gay people.

Republicans in the state Senate recently voted in favour of Senate Bill 129 – which exempts people from anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of “religious freedom”.

The singer – who recorded hit ‘Georgia’ as a tribute to the state – took to a local paper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, to speak against the ban.

He wrote: “On its surface, Senate Bill 129 – a bill under consideration in the Georgia Legislature known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – claims to protect religious freedom and encourage tolerance.

“In reality, it encourages the same discrimination that’s haunted the South for too long.”

He continued: “What SB 129 will really do is institutionalize the hate some people hold in their hearts against other people.

“It will turn back the clock on the progress we have made — not only in the fight against HIV, but also in the struggle for a more equal and just society.

“To be clear, I firmly believe in freedom of religion. Everyone has the right to worship as they choose.

“But I also believe in justice, equality and the rule of law. We can’t just let people refuse to follow a law because they don’t like it. And we can’t just grant special exemptions that allow people to discriminate at will.

“In this country, if you don’t like a law, you can work to change it. And if enough people agree with your point of view, you’ll succeed.

“That’s the beauty of democracy in America. And that’s why I’m writing this essay. I hope enough people, once they realize the harmful intent behind SB 129, will join me in fighting it.

“No one should be discriminated against because of who he is, or what he looks like, or because of a disease he happens to have.

“My dear friend Eli [Georgia AIDS activist Eli Saleeby] fought and lived through a time of progress, and so should we. We cannot afford to turn back the clock as we fight for an AIDS-free future in Georgia, across the country and around the world.”

Human Rights Campaign National Field Director Marty Rouse said: “All Georgians deserve to be treated fairly and equally, including LGBT people.

“No one should be turned away from a business, denied service in a restaurant, or even evicted from their apartment simply because of who they are.

“When LGBT people walk into a business that’s open to the public, they should be treated just like anyone else.”