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Indiana senate panel approves bill to repeal religious freedom law

[JURIST] An Indiana legislative committee approved a bill [SB 344] Wednesday that would repeal the controversial religious freedom law [SB 101] passed last year [JURIST report] that allowed businesses to deny service based on sexual orientation. The Senate Rules committee voted 7-5 to approve the bill, which will grant civil rights protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals. The amendment is still facing criticism, however, because it does not protect transgender individuals. As a result of the controversial law [Chicago Tribune article], Indiana has reportedly lost as much as $60 million in profit, tax revenue and other economic benefits resulting from many conventions being canceled in Indianapolis.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been a controversial issue in the US. In July 2014 US President Barack Obama signed an executive order [text] barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity [JURIST report] but, despite pressure, did not include any exemptions for religious organizations. In November 2013 the US Senate approved [JURIST report] the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [text], a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, by a vote of 64 to 32, but it has made no progress in the House of Representatives. The US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) [official website] in July 2013 approved a version [JURIST report] of ENDA. Also in 2013, the Virginia Senate initially approved legislation [JURIST report] that would prohibit the state government from discriminating against its employees based on sexual orientation.

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