Mississippi: another state passes anti-gay legislation

LGBT activists protested outside the Mississippi state capitol on Tuesday as the Governor signed a bill that allows for businesses to refuse service to people based on their sexuality or gender identity.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law on Tuesday that allows businesses and government workers to deny services to LGBT people. The Governor said in a statement that he was signing the bill, HB 1523, “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.”

The law, which is being called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, has been widely criticized by civil rights groups, businesses and the Mississippi Economic Council.  Freedom for All Americans, a prominent civil rights group, called the new Mississippi law “the nation’s worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation.”

Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement, “Indiana and North Carolina’s anti-LGBT laws were horrendous, but Gov. Bryant’s bill goes even further in denying critical protections and enabling discrimination against LGBT individuals.”

The law, which was authored by Republican Philip Gunn, speaker of the Mississippi House, is claiming to provide protections for people who believe “marriage is the union of one man and one woman, that sexual relations should only take place inside such marriages, and that the terms 'male' or 'female' refer to individuals’ 'immutable biological sex.'”

HB 1523 prevents the state government from taking “discriminatory” action against churches, religious charities and private businesses who decline services to people who they deem to be “violating their religious beliefs.”

Bryant said in a statement that the law was an effort to prevent government interference in people’s lives, and that it “merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are,” Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said in a statement.

Here’s what Troye Sivan has to say about the importance of LGBT rights:

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