Protecting LGBT people from discrimination is now illegal in Arkansas

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A law preventing cities in Arkansas from protecting LGBT people against discrimination came into force on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the state’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of Senate Bill 202.

The legislation voids measures adopted in individual cities and counties that protect workers from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

SB202 states that: “A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

As the state of Arkansas does not recognise discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this means workers have now been left without protection.

The Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, refused to veto the law.

“Senate Bill 202 passed with significant margins in the General Assembly, and I have a high regard for the discussion in the legislature and respect for the legislative process,” Gov Hutchinson said in a statement to the Arkansas Times last week.

“As governor, I recognise the desire to prevent burdensome regulations on businesses across the state. However, I am concerned about the loss of local control. For that reason, I am allowing the bill to become law without my signature.”

On Sunday, pop icon Cher accused the Republican of hanging the LGBT community “out to dry”.

Ex-US President Bill Clinton the former governor of Arkansas – and Hillary Clinton, have both been noted by several LGBT campaigners for their lack of public statements against SB202.

The president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native has also been accused of failing to speak out by gay journalist and talk show host Michelangelo Signorile.