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Mississippi’s new anti-LGBT law could lead to ‘sex police’ of premarital sex

Joseph McCormick April 6, 2016
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PARK CITY, KS - FEBRUARY 26: Police tape hangs across the street in front of the house that Dennis Rader lives in February 26, 2005 in Park City, Kansas. Rader is the suspect whom police have arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the 10 deaths now tied to the serial killer known as BTK. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)PARK CITY, KS - FEBRUARY 26: Police tape hangs across the street in front of the house that Dennis Rader lives in February 26, 2005 in Park City, Kansas. Rader is the suspect whom police have arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the 10 deaths now tied to the serial killer known as BTK. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

(Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

Legal experts have warned that Mississippi’s new anti-LGBT law could lead to ordinary people assuming the role of “sex police”.

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

In Mississippi, the most extreme anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ bill passed the state legislature last week.

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

Now legal experts have warned that the law goes further than allowing discrimination against LGBT people, as it could raise issues over religious objections to those who have premarital sex.

“You know it doesn’t say that they have to just have premarital sex with the person or the person they’re with, but if it’s a married couple and the fellow learns that the husband and wife had previously shacked up with somebody and had a sexual relationship with somebody, that would be protected under the section of this act,” Matt Steffey, a professor at Mississippi College School of Law, told WAPT.

But former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Ed Pittman said the law could be unenforceable.

“It’s not a good law,” he said. “It might be good morals, but you can’t write that into law.”

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.

“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.

 

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.”

Related topics: Mississippi, US

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