Major US companies are denouncing a controversial “religious liberty” proposal they say would severely curtail the rights of Georgia’s LGBT community.
Georgia Prospers, which represents more than 480 companies, is a staunch opponent of the bill. Members include some big companies with large operations in Georgia – including Coca-Cola, Del, Home Depot, UPS and Marriott .
Tech giants Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and Dell have urged the governor veto the bill.
Many of the businesses who publicly oppose the proposal have issued strong statements. Some have gone further, threatening to reduce investment in Georgia if the measure becomes law. The bill, HB 757, gives faith-based organisations in Georgia the option to deny services to gay people and supporters say the measure protects religious freedom.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman said he will “reconsider investment” in Georgia if the bill is signed.
20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros Entertainment all say they will no longer stage productions in Georgia if the state’s governor signs the bill into law.
The bill was passed by its state legislature last week and is intended to prohibit state officials or pastors from being forced to perform or attend same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Brandon Lorenz, communications director with the Human Rights Campaign, called Georgia’s HB 757 “an Indiana-style bill that blatantly promotes discrimination.”
“The Georgia legislature took a bad bill and made it worse.” Lorenz said. “This is a bill that has all kinds of avenues for harm and discrimination for Georgians.”
Campaigners are calling HB 757 legally-sanctioned discrimination. They say it would also allow for faith-based organisations to deny service or employment to anyone violating their “sincerely held religious beliefs” and discriminating against LGBTI people with regard to social service provision and jobs.
The state’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, has until May 3 to sign or veto the bill.