Indiana Senate passes ‘religious freedom’ bill

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The Indiana Senate has passed a bill allowing organisations to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of “religious freedom”.

The bill allows people – which it also defines as including businesses, churches and organisations – to refuse to serve anyone based on their religious beliefs. It is intended to “protect” businesses from having to provide services for same-sex weddings after the effective legalisation of same-sex marriage last year.

Republican Senator Scott Schneider, who wrote the bill, said “‘If you were to ask the question, what is the single most important pillar of our democracy, chances are the answer to that question is going to be freedom of religion.

“You don’t have to look too far to find a growing hostility toward people of faith. This bill acts as a shield, not a sword.”

Jennifer Pizer, National Director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project said in a statement: “We have seen this over and over – bills that say they are about protecting one thing when the real goal is to target and discriminate against LGBT people, with vast implications for everyone else.”

The bills passed 40-10 – with all ten Democrat Senators voting against it – and will now pass to the House for a vote. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce have said the bill may damage the state’s reputation with businesses.