Puerto Rico passes ‘religious freedom’ bill in House of Representatives

Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives has passed a ‘religious freedom’ bill, which human rights activists say will allow LGBT+ discrimination.

The bill states public policy in the US commonwealth will be “the protection of our citizens’ right to practice the religion of their choice,” according to local media.

It also ensures religious-based organisations will “not be discriminated against because of their religious affiliations” in accessing government services, permits, loans and other services that are “available to other non-religious entities.”

LGBT+ rights advocates say the bill opens the door to discrimination against the community.

In the US, proposed religious freedom laws protect the right of state-licensed workers to refuse to provide services based on their religious beliefs.

Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have criticised the bill, which critics say will allow government employees to refuse services to citizens.

Warren wrote on Twitter: “Religious freedom cannot be used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone deserves to live and love freely—no exceptions.”

“Our laws as a society should work to end discrimination, not enable it. This bill passed by the Puerto Rico House of Representatives would put LGBTQ Puerto Ricans at risk of discrimination. It must not become law,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

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