Georgia vetoes ‘religious freedom’ bill

Georgia Governor Nathan DealImage copyright

Image caption

Mr Deal said Georgia does not have to discriminate to protect the religious freedom

The governor of the US state of Georgia has vetoed a “religious freedom” bill after facing pressure from business interests.

The bill would have allowed faith-based organisations to refuse service to gay and transgender people.

Disney, the National Football League, Coca-Cola and others threatened to pull business out of the state.

“I believe it is a matter of character for our state,” Governor Nathan Deal said.

“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.”

Republicans lawmakers said the bill would protect religious people who believe serving gay and transgender people violates their beliefs.

The bill also would have protected clergy not wishing to perform gay marriages, and people who would not attend weddings based on religious beliefs.

If passed, opponents said it would have legalised discrimination and flattened ordinances passed to protect the LGBT community.

Mr Deal said his decision was “about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state; it is full of loving, kind and generous people.”

Disney said it would refuse to shoot films in Georgia if the bill became law.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman told Variety last week.

Warner Bros and cable network AMC released a similar statement last week. AMC produces the hit show The Walking Dead, which is filmed in the state.

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