Will Northern Ireland face the next Indiana-style boycott?

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The Northern Irish Assembly has been warned that a proposed “conscience clause” could lead to the same level of boycott which led the US state of Indiana to hire a PR company to perform damage limitation this week.

The DUP-backed “conscience clause” bill would permit anti-gay discrimination, and has been compared to Indiana’s “religious freedom” law, which has seen the state come under heavy criticism, and the subject of boycotts from companies like Apple and $4 billion Salesforce, from other states and businesses, and a number of celebrities.

The Northern Irish bill was drawn up by DUP MLA Paul Givan, after a Christian-run bakery faced legal action for refusing to bake a cake with a pro-equal marriage slogan.

Yesterday, the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland voiced cautious support for the bill.

Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane told members that the law could lead to the same kind of boycott, and said she feared that Northern Ireland would fail to attract investment if the bill went ahead.

She asked the DUP Economy Minister Arlene Foster: “Does the minister share my concern that the proposed conscience clause in Northern Ireland could have implications similar to the business and sport boycott of the state of Indiana following the introduction of similar legislation?”

Foster replied: “No, I don’t share her concerns at all,”

Sinn Fein has vowed to block the passage of the bill at Stormont, and nearly 300,000 have signed a petition against it.