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Governor Mike Pence signs ‘fix’ for Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law

Governor Mike Pence signs ‘fix’ for Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law

Governor Mike Pence Thursday (2 April) evening signed a fix to Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law after a backlash over what was seen as a ‘license to discriminate.’

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), made law last week, allowed businesses to turn away LGBTI customers on religious grounds.

The amendment, which passed the state House by a vote of 66-30 and the state Senate by a vote of 34-16, explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – the first time both terms have ever been mentioned in Indiana law.

‘Over the past week this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation,’ Pence said in a statement.

‘However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state take action to address the concerns that have been raised and move forward.’

Companies such as Walmart and Apple condemned the law, with some states even stopping state-funded travel to Indiana.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the amendment limited the damage of the law but fell far short of providing a full solution.

‘The measure fails to explicitly ensure that the RFRA won’t be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws, and does not add LGBT non-discrimination protections to the state’s civil rights laws,’ the group said.

In cities that have LGBT non-discrimination protections, such as Indianapolis, the RFRA cannot be used as a defense to discriminate against LGBTI people in employment, housing and private accommodations.

But the ‘fix’ does not address healthcare and education.

For example, a private pharmacist could still refuse to write a prescription for an LGBTI person seeking HIV medication, hormone therapy or fertility drugs. And a parent could still sue a teacher for intervening when their child bullies an LGBTI classmate.

‘In cities without LGBT non-discrimination protections on the books, LGBT Hoosiers still face discrimination of all kinds,’ the group added.