Judge blocks Mississippi's anti-LGBT 'religious freedom law'

US federal judge blocks Mississippi law that would have allowed people who cite religious beliefs to refuse services to LGBT people 

Critics of the the law warned that it discriminated against LGBT+ people
Critics of the the law warned that it discriminated against LGBT+ people

A US federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law protecting religious objections to same-sex marriage a day before it was set to take effect.

In his ruling, Judge Carlton Reeves said that the law created “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

By setting aside particular beliefs for protection as opposed to religious convictions in general, the law unconstitutionally “put its thumb on the scale to favour some religious beliefs over others”. He concluded by imposing a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect.

Mississippi's "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act" would have allowed people who cite religious beliefs to refuse a broad range of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

However, critics warned that the law could have affected business practices, adoptions, foster care, school bathroom policies and marriage licences.

Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who signed the bill into law in April, said he was disappointed at the ruling.

"Like I said when I signed House Bill 1523, the law simply provides religious accommodations granted by many other states and federal law," Bryant said.

"I am disappointed Judge Reeves did not recognise that reality. I look forward to an aggressive appeal."

Over a dozen US states have passed or considered "religious liberty" laws in response to last June's historic Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage nationwide. 

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