Indiana hit by protests against anti-gay bill

April 12, 2015
Protesters march against Indiana's anti-gay bill in March.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Indiana state capital Indianapolis on April 4 to demand legal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“No hate in our state,” read placards carried by protesters. They marched through the city just days after state legislators revised a controversial religious freedom law that failed to provide protection against discrimination.

In its original form, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act prompted widespread outrage. It would have opened the door to businesses refusing to serve clients based on their perceived sexual orientation.

On April 2, the law was altered to include a specific ban on denying services to gay and lesbian clients, but protesters on Saturday dismissed the measure as a “band-aid”.

AAP reported that march organiser Dominic Dorsey said: “This new language that they've added is like stabbing somebody in the back and then pulling it out three inches and saying, 'You're alright, right?'”

Protests also hit Indianapolis when the law was first passed by the state legislature. The wave of outcry has spread to include large corporate interests, sparking fears it could batter Indiana's economy.

Big companies such as Apple and Wal-Mart Stores called on Indiana's Republican governor Mike Pence to repeal the law. Car racing company NASCAR called the law disappointing.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and Christian church Disciples of Christ both declared plans to cancel their annual meetings in Indianapolis.

Gaming convention Gen Con said it would review its operations. Gen Con says it brings an estimated US$50 million in revenue to the state each year.

In a March 30 open letter, Gen Con Chief Executive Adrian Swartout said: “A significant portion of Gen Con attendees identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and we are reading that some members of our community feel unsafe travelling to Indiana.”

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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