US: Alabama anti-discrimination bill named in honour of Apple boss Tim Cook

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A bill that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment has been named after Apple CEO Tim Cook in his home state of Alabama.

The Apple boss spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time last month, finally revealing he is “proud to be gay” after years of speculation.

It came days after he lashed out at his home state of Alabama for its lack of rights laws, saying: “As a state, we took too long to take steps toward equality.

“We were too slow on equality on African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage. And we are still too slow on equality for the LBGT community.

“All of us share the responsibility of making us equal. Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired for their sexual orientation.”

In response, one of the state’s lesbian lawmakers Patricia Todd has revived a bill which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics protected by discrimination laws – as the Tim Cook Economic Development bill.

Ms Todd, a Democrat in the state’s House of Representatives, told the Annison Star: “I’m calling it the Tim Cook Economic Development Act.

“If you ask people on the street, they’ll say of course you can’t get fired. They think we’re a protected class, but we’re not.”

“I hear from teachers all the time who are terrified that they’ll be fired because someone will find out that they’re gay.

“It’s a question of recruiting. Workers want to know they’re coming to a place where they’re protected.”

Republican Governor Robert Bentley claims the law is redundant, saying: “As it relates to state agencies in Alabama, it would be a violation of Title VII and Sections 1981, 1983 and 1985 of the Civil Rights Act to terminate a person based solely on sexual orientation.”

However, the provisions he references do not grant the same level of protections to gay people as are afforded to other minority groups.