Mississippi Governor defies big business, signs anti-LGBT law

Governor Phil Bryant

Governor Phil Bryant

Governor Phil Bryant has ignored widespread condemnation and warnings from major corporations in the state of Mississippi and signed an anti-LGBT bill into law on Tuesday.

The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act (bill HB 1523) will allow individuals and organisations to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others.

The law could impact areas such as recognition of same-sex marriages, foster care, accommodation and many other services.

Some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan, Tyson Food, MGM Resorts, and Toyota publicly voiced their opposition to the legislation, joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co, MassMutual, General Electric, and Hyatt hotels.

In a statement on Monday, Jay C. Moon, President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) called for Bryant to veto the measure saying: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity.”

Bryant justified his approval of the law by insisting that it was needed “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organisations and private associations…”

Human Rights campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin described the law as “hateful and discriminatory” and said that Bryant had “disgraced” himself by signing it.

“Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office,” said Griffin. “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.”

Following Kansas and North Carolina, Mississippi’s HB 1523 is the third stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed in law in the US in 2016. The laws represent a backlash by conservative Americans against the US Supreme Court’s legalising of same-sex marriage last year.

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