Religious Freedom Restoration Act under pressure in Indiana from city officials who want it repealed

Indiana governor Mike Pence faced intense criticism for signing Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.Reuters

City officials in Gary, Indiana are calling for the total repeal of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by the state legislative body in late March.

On March 27, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed the RFRA, which was meant to prevent the government from pursuing legal action against persons who conduct their business in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Corporations, event organisers and human rights groups immediately criticised the Act, saying that it would encourage discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the workplace and in establishments, as Indiana does not have clear laws that prevent discrimination against sexual orientation.

In response, Governor Pence requested an amendment to the Act that would include an anti-discrimination provision and signed the amended version on April 2.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Gary Common Council approved a resolution on Tuesday requesting the state General Assembly and Governor Pence to outright repeal the RFRA.

The resolution, which is not binding on state officials and was passed after a vote of 7-0, requested the General Assembly to replace the RFRA with "a State Law to prohibit its discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of personal sexual orientation or gender identity.".

Council President Kyle Allen told the Chicago Tribune that people have used religion as an excuse to discriminate against other people many times in history.

"It was used as the basis for slavery, for 'Jim Crow,' for sexism, for discrimination in general," Allen explained.

"Discrimination is not something government should be supporting," he stressed.

Allen said that the Act is a "shield" for people to discriminate others behind.

Gary City Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the Chicago Tribune that similar resolutions in opposition to the RFRA are being passed in the cities of South Bend and Bloomington.