News (USA)

Mississippi’s Christians now have a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people

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Photo: Lambda Legal

Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law went into effect today, opening up the LGBTQ community to widespread discrimination.

HB 1523 allows anyone citing a religiously motivated reason to deny goods and services to the LGBTQ community, as well as those who have sex outside of marriage, or anything else that might rub their dogmatic sensibilities the wrong way.

It comes on the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions issuing guidance memos on behalf of the Trump administration to steer the Justice Department in a similar direction, giving wide protections to those who discriminate in the name of their religious beliefs.

The ACLU of Mississippi, Campaign for Southern Equality, Freedom for All Americans, Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Rising Coalition, and The Spectrum Center of Hattiesburg, MS released the following joint statement:

The nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law is now in effect in Mississippi, and it will bring undeniable damage to the lives of thousands of Mississippians, paving the way for deep harm and discrimination. HB1523 allows some state government officials, healthcare providers, businesses, and employees to cite their personally held religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate against Mississippi residents and visitors. This is wrong.

Although HB 1523 is now in effect in Mississippi, we will do everything we can to limit its consequences. We stand proudly with LGBTQ Mississippians, as well as their friends, families and allies who are committed to fighting this law and ensuring everyone can live their lives free from fear of state-sanctioned discrimination. We stand ready to challenge discrimination in all forms and where possible, and will bring lawsuits against those who discriminate against their LGBTQ neighbors and fellow Mississippians.

“America was founded on the freedom of religion and this shared value continues to be critical to our nation’s success, but it does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

“The fight is far from over and we stand with advocates in Mississippi who simply want to be treated equal to their coworkers, friends, and neighbors,” Ellis added.

In June, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision that had blocked the law before it could take effect.

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