WASHINGTON – The Indiana House of Representatives announced Thursday that it will make changes to the state’s controversial law on religious freedom, which has engendered much criticism for allowing discrimination against homosexuals.
The head of the lower house, Republican Brian Bosma, said on Thursday he wanted to make it “very clear” that the law permits no leeway to “allow discrimination.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also a Republican, last week signed the law giving free rein to the state’s businesses to prohibit entry or deny service to homosexual couples in the name of “religious freedom.”
The legislation sparked a huge controversy and unleashed criticism not only from gay rights defense groups but also from businessmen, Republican and Democratic politicians and even the White House.
Bosma refutes those criticisms on Thursday and, although he did not specify what changes would be made to the law, he said that the text will reflect the fact that Indiana values everyone, including gays, heterosexuals, blacks, whites, religious believers and non-believers.
The message should be clear that Indiana is “open for business” welcomes everyone and does not discriminate against anyone, the lawmaker insisted.
On Wednesday, Pence had asked the state legislature to evaluate the changes that should be made to the law.
He said that the legislature had been unfairly criticized and mistakenly represented by the media, and he added that no discrimination of gays or lesbians would be condoned.
The possibility that the law would allow businesses and business owners to deny services to homosexual customers and consumers had put businessmen in the state against it out of fear that they could lose investment and sales.
The White House said on Thursday that the controversial law is discriminatory and goes against the interests of businessmen.
Apple CEO Tim Cook had come out against the law in an op-ed piece, calling it “very dangerous.”
And the Arkansas legislature had passed a law very similar to Indiana’s earlier this week but Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to sign it asked state lawmakers to modify the text to guarantee that it would not allow denial of service to homosexuals.