The Human Rights Campaign has said Hollywood should turn its back on the state of Georgia if an anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ bill passes.

Speaking last night at the HRC Gala in Los Angeles, President Chad Griffin addressed a thousand-strong crowd at the event which honoured TV show ‘Empire’ with an Equality Award, and saw singer Estelle perform.

He compared Georgia’s HB 757 to a similar bill passed in Indiana last year, saying it gives “licence to discriminate”.

Griffin then said Hollywood should cease production in Georgia, to send a message that such legislation will not be accepted. Georgia currently offers tax breaks for production companies filming in the state.

The HRC notes that 248 film and television productions were shot in the state in the 2015 financial year, resulting in at least $1.7 billion in direct spending.

Griffin said, “I know we have many entertainment industry leaders in the room tonight. Like other states, Georgia offers tax incentives for TV and film productions, and as a result, the entertainment industry has a huge economic footprint in the state. But if this bill is signed into law, your employees, your contractors — all those working on your production are at risk of state-sanctioned discrimination.

“That is wrong. It’s un-American. It’s an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on. And you have the influence and the opportunity to not only defeat this bill, but to send a message that there are consequences to passing dangerous and hateful laws like this. And so tonight, we’re asking you to join us as we urge TV and film studios, directors and producers, to commit to locating no further productions in the state of Georgia if this bill becomes law.”

HB 757 has been widely condemned, but last month passed unanimously in the House of Representatives 161-0.

Originally described as a measure to protect pastors who refuse to perform same-sex weddings, the bill has now passed in the House again by 104-65, after extra “protections” were added, meaning businesses and employees could discriminate against LGBT people.
It has been pointed out by human rights groups, that the bill would even allow hospitals to refuse necessary treatment to people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Friday the NFL said Georgia could lose out on hosting the Superbowl if the bill passes, and various business leaders have already started moving their companies out of the state.

The Governor earlier this month suggested he was against signing the bill. Nathan Deal used bible verse to make his point, saying: “We do not have a belief, in my way of looking at religion, that says that we have to discriminate against anybody.”

“I think what the New Testament teaches us,” he continued “is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered outcasts.”

The HRC President also urged the US Senate to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Some Republicans have said they will not hold a hearing for Merrick Garland.

He said: “I don’t have to tell the people in this room how important the Supreme Court is. We have seen what can happen when our rights are left up to a vote. Time and again we have had to fight all the way to the nation’s highest court to achieve and protect our basic Constitutional rights and protections.

“There’s no doubt that Merrick Garland is a highly qualified candidate. President Obama has done his job. Now it’s time for Senate Republicans to do theirs. Americans deserve a full Supreme Court bench, and the President’s nominee deserves a hearing.”

Check out a video of Chad Griffin’s speech at the dinner, below: