Thousands protest ‘religious freedom’ law in US Indiana


Thousands of people gathered in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to protest the passage this week of a controversial “religious freedom” law that critics say could allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The protesters chanted and held signs as they marched from Monument Circle to the Indiana Statehouse to express their displeasure with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the legislation Thursday.

“No hate in our state,” “Whose State? Our State!” and “Fix the bill” were some of the chants heard in the background at the rally.

An unidentified State Police trooper estimated that as many as 3,000 were in attendance at the height of the rally,

Rally organizers also encouraged more people to register to vote to make their voices heard.

The law prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.

Pence signed the bill, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, on Thursday, unleashing a storm of criticism from inside and outside of the state from people who think the bill could lead to discrimination from business owners who don’t want to serve gay or same-sex customers.

On Saturday, Pence said he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that the law does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Although he did not provide details on what the new bill will say, the governor said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week.

Business leaders have criticized the bill, saying that it gives the state a bad image and will make it harder to recruit top talent to Indiana.


On Saturday, Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle said he will cancel the company’s plans for a $40 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters because of his opposition to RFRA.


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