US: Mississippi passes bill to legalise anti-gay discrimination

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The US state of Mississippi on Tuesday quietly passed a bill which would legalise discrimination against gay and lesbian people based on religious belief.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, appeared last month to have been stalled, after the House sent it to a committee, rather than passing it, however the House and Senate have both approved a conference report on the bill.

The bill bans authorities from placing a “burden” on “a person’s right to the exercise of religion”.

Mississippi currently has no anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT people, and the bill passed on Tuesday could allow religious business owners to turn away gay or lesbian customers, based on religious belief.

A similar bill was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last month. 

It is unclear whether Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant will sign the religious freedom bill into law.

The passage of the bill was celebrated by anti-gay activists, while its opponents urged Bryant to veto it.