US: Mississippi business owners declare support for equal treatment of gay people

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Hundreds of Mississippi business owners have declared their support for the equal treatment of gay and lesbian customers.

The move comes amid a new law which bans the government from limiting the free practice of religion which is due to take effect on 1 July.

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

The bill bans authorities from placing a “burden” on “a person’s right to the exercise of religion”, and could be used to protect business owners who discriminate against LGBT people.

Stickers have begun to pop up in the windows of businesses declaring: “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”

The campaign was started after Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law.

Organisers of the “We don’t discriminate” campaign say the first 500 stickers were given out within two weeks, and that more were on order.

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

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pointed to the fact that other states had rejected similar bills.

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