US companies urge southern US state to overturn laws seen as anti-gay

GMT 08:39 2016 Friday ,08 April

Arab Today, arab today US companies urge southern US state to overturn laws seen as anti-gay

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (L)
Miami - AFP

Officials from ten US companies on Thursday wrote to the governor of Mississippi urging him to overturn a controversial law that opponents say discriminates against gay and transsexual people.

"Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Mississippi or anywhere in our country," read the letter, signed by senior executives from General Electric, The Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical, Pepsico, Hewlett Packard, Levi Strauss, Whole Foods Market, and the Hyatt and Choice hotel chains.

"As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to repeal this bill."

The letter was released by the Human Rights Campaign, a group challenging similar measures in several states that they believe discriminate against the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Supporters say the Mississippi law protects government employees, religious organizations and some businesses that cite religious beliefs as a reason for denying services to same-sex couples that want to marry.

The measure, known as HB 1523, was signed into law on Tuesday by Mississippi's Republican Governor Phil Bryant.

"We believe that HB 1523 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation's best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country," the executives wrote.

The law is one of several approved or being considered in several states with conservative governments in response to the June 2015 US Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage.

Bryant claims that the measure is aimed at preventing government interference in private lives.

The company executives said the measures will make their recruitment more difficult, and "will also diminish the state's draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity."

North Carolina also is facing growing protests by major companies against recently passed state legislation targeting transgender people.

In a similar letter to North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, nearly 100 representatives of companies such as Apple, Bank of America, Marriott, Starbucks and Facebook also warned of the law's impact on tourism and business.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and other sports groups have also warned they will consider moving events outside of North Carolina, while Hollywood directors and producers have signaled their opposition to film in the state.

In another southern state, Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a similar "religious freedoms" bill that giant corporations, Hollywood and activists complained would infringe gay rights.


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