US: Hundreds of activists rally against Arizona bill to make homophobic discrimination LEGAL

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Hundreds of activists rallied in Arizona recently to demonstrate the passage of bill which would allow religious business owners the right to discriminate against gay couples.

According to AFP, the demonstration took place on Friday when the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was given its final approval.

Hundreds of LGBT activists and their supporters rallied outside the state Capitol building in Phoenix, while others gathered in the southern city of Tucson to campaign against the bill.

Campaigners at the Phoenix rally waved signs that read “What about love thy neighbor?” and “No to 1062!” as they gathered to hear speakers.

The Human Rights Campaign also described the bill as “bad for business, bad for the LGBT community and bad for all Arizonans.”

State Governor Jan Brewer has not said whether she will sign the bill into law.

On Thursday evening, the bill was approved by Arizona’s House with 33 votes to 27.

It has been described by Democrats as “state sanctioned discrimination”.

“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom,” Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar said in a statement.

“With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation.

“This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”

A similar bill was quashed by a Senate committee in Kansas yesterday – even though it had already won approval in the state’s House of Representatives.

Idaho, Ohio and Kansas have all introduced such legislation, however the Arizona one is the most advanced.

Arizona has a statute that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The state only legalised same-sex sexual activity in 2001.