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Governor of Mississippi signs ‘insane’ new anti-gay law despite pleas from business leaders

Nick Duffy April 5, 2016

The Governor of Mississippi has signed a new law that discriminates against LGBT people – ignoring pleas from business leaders in the state.

Republicans across the US are attempting to push a new wave of state level anti-LGBT legislation in response to the introduction of same-sex marriage last year.

The right-wingers claim the laws will ‘protect’ business owners who oppose equal marriage because of their religion – but they achieve this by voiding anti-discrimination protections – in some cases actually explicitly permitting discrimination against gay couples.

The Governor of Georgia agreed to veto such a law last month when it made it to his desk – while North Carolina has been subjected to lawsuits and boycotts after Republican Pat McCrory signed its version into law.

The latest battleground is in Mississippi – where possibly the most extreme law yet passed the state legislature last week.

House Bill 1523 goes even further by permitting people to discriminate based on sexual orientation in “any employment-related decision” and “any decision concerning the sale, rental, [or] occupancy of a dwelling” as long as it’s based on “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” – meaning it would be explicitly legal to sack gays and evict them, as long as it’s what Jesus told you to do.

The bill also bans the state from taking any action whatsoever against a person or business “on the basis that the person has provided or declined to provide [services]” to gay couples.

Phil Bryant, the Governor of Mississippi, signed the bill into law today.

He said: “I have signed HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning.

“This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws.

“It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances.

“The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”

Ahead of the decision, campaigners have warned that the state will see a strong backlash if the law is signed – and will also likely face a costly legal challenge.

Jay C Moon of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association warned: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity.

“This is not a bill that the MMA supports and we hope that it will not find its way into law.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law.

“Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office.

“He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership.

“Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”

More: Anti-gay, Gay, Georgia, Governor of Mississippi, homophobic, Law, LGBT, Mississippi, North Carolina, sexuality, US

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