US: Virginia lawmakers kill bill that would allow anti-gay discrimination

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Lawmakers in Virginia have successfully stopped a bill that would have legalised discrimination against LGBT people.

Republican delegate Bob Marshall – who previously co-authored the state’s now-defunct constitutional ban on same-sex marriage – introduced the legislation earlier this month.

The bill, HB 1414, would have effectively granted people and businesses the right to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, Mr Marshall’s bill did not survive a hearing at the House of Delegates subcommittee, who rejected the legislation this week.

The move has been met with relief from equality campaigners in the state, who worried that right-wing Republicans could rally behind the legislation,

James Parrish of Equality Virginia said: “Equality Virginia applauds the subcommittee for voting against this discriminatory and destructive bill.

“This bill would have hurt too many people, damaged our business climate, and highlighted Virginia as a hostile and unwelcoming place to live and work.

“The majority of Virginians agree that discrimination against LGBT people is wrong, and, thankfully, today’s vote reflects that opinion.”

Guthrie Gastañaga of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said of the law previously: “It’s licensing it [discrimination], authorizing it, and saying it’s okay.

“It’s like [racial segregation laws] Jim Crow. It’s like a state law that says it’s okay to discriminate against black people and have two different kinds of water fountains.”

A number of pro-LGBT laws were also voted down by the committee, as had been expected.