Indiana governor says he wants to ‘fix’ religion law

_82040707_getty-hi026569249BBC News – The governor of Indiana has said that he wants state lawmakers to “fix” a religious freedom law that has created a national outcry.

Critics of the law say it could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Governor Mike Pence said he wanted state lawmakers to add language to the law that clarifies its intentions, by the end of the week.

“This is a clarification, but it’s also a fix,” he said.

He stressed that the controversy was the result of a “perception problem” not lawmakers’ desire to discriminate.

The bill, which was signed into law by Mr Pence last week, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s religious beliefs. It defines “person” to included religious institutions, businesses and associations.

The governor went on the attack after a number of famous names, corporations and sporting institutions warned that business owners now had a licence to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Mr Pence said he “was proud to sign” the bill, but that he believes “it would be appropriate to make it clear that this law does not make it give business a right to deny services to anyone”.

“I don’t support discrimination against gays or lesbians or anyone else. I abhor discrimination,” he said.

Critics believe it provides a way for opponents of gay marriage, which became legal in Indiana last year, to continue their opposition by other means.

A chorus of criticism has been growing for nearly a week, and the backlash has made allies of Hillary Clinton and Miley Cyrus, and Angie’s List and Apple.

On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star ran a full, front page editorial calling on state leaders to enact protections for gays and transgendered people.

Many businesses across the state have posted placards and stickers saying they serve everyone, and the official tourism site for Indianapolis – the state’s capital – features a rainbow graphic and a “LGBT guide to Indy”.

Over the weekend, Mr Pence repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about how the law might be used against gay people in a nationally televised interview.

Referring to that interview Mr Pence said on Tuesday, “I could have handled that better this weekend.”

Despite the national outcry, Arkansas is set enact a similar measure on Tuesday.

Categories: Headlines, U.S.

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