Today, our world spans eight billion people and counting, and as the world is getting smaller (where countries are just a text message away) we are beginning to see the diversity of it. After Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant signed the so-called Freedom of Conscience bill, outrage ensued.

The Bill, formally known as the, “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” or “Religious Liberty Accommodations act” is actually gravely violating the rights of the LGBT community (which includes but are not limited to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people). It was marked as unconstitutional by Judge Reeves before it took effect on 1 July; he said it was, “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to The New York Times.

The bill states that, “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman…[and that] male, female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by birth.”

This devastates both gay and transgender parties by giving state employees the right to not license or oversee same-sex marriages, as long as they take “all necessary steps” not to prolong the wedding, and by forcing transgender people to use the restroom of their biological sex, rather than the one they identify with.  

The bill also affects, “any employment-related decision, the decision of whether or not to hire, terminate or discipline an individual… [and change] any decision concerning the sale, rental, occupancy of, or terms and conditions of occupying a dwelling…” effectively allowing landlords to kick out LGBT people from their homes for being gay/transgender, and allow employers to refuse to hire individuals because they’re LGBT, or fire them for the same reason.  

The bill protects doctors who refuse service to emergency patients because the doctor has different religious beliefs than they.  “Disciplining” allows LGBT children to be forced into “conversion therapy” which allows mental health providers to try and change the sexual orientation of minors, which can often be abusive, including procedures like electric shock, vomit inducing and other physical pain, thus making this bill harmful and unconstitutional.

However some argue that it protects their religious freedoms. Republican Gov. Bryant, who signed the bill, said, “[t]he law simply provides religious accommodations granted by many other states and federal law.”

Many critics disagree.  “ It basically sanctions religious discrimination,” said Erik Fleming, a former Mississippi legislator. “People say that it is just religious, but there were people who had a religious belief that black and white people should be segregated, and you’re opening that Pandora’s box again”

The bill, HB 1523, preys on the people, allowing believers  using religion to publicly discriminate against those who are different from themselves.

The effects of these sorts of bills don’t just affect members of the LGBT community. After North Carolina attempted to pass a bill that covers the same area as H.B. 1523 in March, large companies such as PayPal (the one responsible for a lot of your online shopping), cancelled its $3.6 million investment in Charlotte and also laid off 400 workers after a similar bill was proposed.

Large companies like Apple and Coca-Cola have also both said that the bill discriminates against the LGBT community, and if companies like PayPal stop  investing in areas that oppose the LGBT community, the governments of those states will see a negative impact on the economy, thereby creating a backlash for the state.

This raises a question:  is “protecting” a religion worth putting the entire LGBT community in harm’s way and ruining a state’s economy?  If you don’t think so, treat those around you with respect, even though they might not have the same values as you.