الأربعاء , يونيو 17 2020

Indiana details fix to religion law

Protestors decrying the law on 30 March 2015

Demonstrators have called for changes to the law for days

Lawmakers in Indiana have announced promised changes to a controversial religious freedom law that has created a national outcry in the US.

The amendment prohibits businesses from using the law as a legal defence if they refuse to provide services to gays and lesbians, or other groups.

The change does not apply to churches, religious schools, or non-profit religious organisations.

Lawmakers hope to vote on the changes later on Thursday.

In addition to barring businesses from discriminating against gays and lesbians, it also prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, ancestry, religion, age, disability, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and military service.

The law passed last week and sparked a national boycott with critics saying it could be used to discriminate against gay people, even though it did not specifically mention the group.

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At the Indiana State House: Ashley Semler, BBC News…

Indiana lawmakers and business leaders, some of whom had originally spoken out against the law, stressed their state’s history of hospitality and inclusiveness.

House Speaker Brian Bosma offered a personal apology to Greg Louganis, the gold-medal winning diver, who had told him he felt hurt by the law.

The House chamber was packed with lawmakers, members of the news media and local business leaders.

One gay rights activist told us after the news conference ended that the state still needs to do more to protect the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people.

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Supporters of the law stress that it only gave religious objectors – such as caterers, photographers or florists who wished to decline working at a same-sex wedding because of religious beliefs – a chance to have their case heard before a judge.

The spotlight of criticism has come to Indiana at an unwelcome time. The state is preparing to play host to the nation’s college basketball championships in coming days.

Lawmakers hope to vote on the fix on Thursday

Lawmakers hope to vote on the “fix” on Thursday

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which organises the games, along with several industry leaders across the US, has been especially critical.

The NCAA President Mark Emmert said that his group is “very pleased” with the proposed changes. Earlier the basketball governing body said it was “especially concerned” with how the law would affect its athletes.

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Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus called Indiana’s law “unevolved unjust”

The law’s critics…

Sport: National Collegiate Athletic Association, NBA, basketball players Charles Barkley and Jason Collins, Olympic diver Greg Louganis, tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova

Business: Angie’s List, Yelp, Warren Buffett, Apple, Gap, Levi’s

Politics: White House, Hillary Clinton, governors of New York, Connecticut and Washington state, cities San Francisco, Indianapolis and Seattle

Celebrities: Miley Cyrus, George Takei, Larry King

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After days of defending the law, Indiana Governor Mike Pence said on Tuesday that he wanted a “fix” to the law.

Lawmakers in Arkansas passed similar legislation in recent days, despite the national furore. The governor refused to sign the bill into law, saying that he wanted it changed.

The controversy has gripped the US political debate as the number of states that allow same-sex marriage has steadily increased. The US Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer in a case that could make gay marriage legal across the United States.

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