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San Francisco, businesses to boycott Indiana over new anti-gay religious freedom law

San Francisco, businesses to boycott Indiana over new anti-gay religious freedom law

San Francisco has become the first major city to boycott Indiana over its new laws that will discriminate against LGBTI people.

Mayor Ed Lee (D) said on Thursday that he objects to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allows businesses in the state to cite religious beliefs as a legal defense for businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Lee said in a statement that the city will not use taxpayer money to fund any city employees’ trips to the Midwestern state.

The statement reads: ‘We stand united as San Franciscans to condemn Indiana’s new discriminatory law, and will work together to protect the civil rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

‘Effective immediately, I am directing City Departments under my authority to bar any publicly-funded City employee travel to the State of Indiana that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety. San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by the State of Indiana.’

A number of busineses including Apple and Yelp have expressed their objection to the new law since it was signed into law by Indiana Gov Mike Pence (R) on Thursday, saying they may pull back their investments in the state.

Tim Cook, CEO of Silicon Valley-based Apple, tweeted Friday that the company is ‘deeply disappointed’ in the new law. He also urged Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson (R) to veto a similar measure in his state.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has canceled the company’s events in Indiana, saying he would not require his employees or customers to travel to a state where they could face discrimination. Prior to the bill becoming law, Benioff said his company would reduce its investment in Indiana due to the bill.

Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of San Francisco-based crowdsourced review website Yelp said the company will ‘make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.’

In an open letter to states considering imposing discrimination laws, he wrote: ‘It is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large.’

He added, ‘I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions. (We’re looking at you, Arkansas.)’

Eli Lilly and Company, an Indiana-based global drug giant which employs more than 11,000 workers in the state, has called the law ‘bad for Indiana and for business.’

‘Discriminatory legislation is bad for Indiana and for business. That’s one key reason we worked with the Indiana Chamber and other businesses in an attempt to defeat the legislation,’ spokeswoman Janice Chavers was quoting as saying by Thinkprogress.

Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout said he is considering moving the US$50 million annual comics and gaming convention out of Indiana over the law.

‘Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.’  

The US Disciples of Christ church has also threatened to move its 2017 General Assembly convention outside of Indiana over the new law.