The governor of Mississippi will sign a bill allowing businesses to refuse to serve gays and lesbians based on owners’ religious beliefs.
The controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was passed by the American state’s legislature on Tuesday and, unlike in Arizona, it will not be vetoed.
On Wednesday, Republican Governor Phil Bryant confirmed that he would sign the bill into law despite condemnation from rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Human Right Campaign (HRC).
According to the HRC, the law could be used to undermine state and local non-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination.
It could also allow pharmacists to refuse to provide HIV and hormone replacement therapy drugs while restaurants, inns, hotels and wedding service providers could be entitled to turn away same-sex couples.
“This bill would hollow out any non-discrimination protections at the local level or possible future state-wide protections,” said HRC State Legislative Director Sarah Warbelow. “Just as we’ve seen in other states, this bill is bad for business, bad for the state’s reputation, and most of all, bad for Mississippians.”
“We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination,” added Jennifer Riley-Collins, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Nobody should be refused service because of who they are.”
In February, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill that had been passed by lawmakers in her state. Other so-called “religious freedom” bills are pending in Missouri and Oklahoma.