A controversial religious freedom law in the US state of Indiana has paved the way for open discrimination of gay people.
Protests have already sprung up in the streets of capital Indianapolis, with critics claiming the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could give businesses such as restaurants a legal loophole for refusing to serve gay men and women on the grounds of religious beliefs.
They have labelled it a “road map to discrimination”.
Governor Mike Pence (pictured), who signed the legislation last week, says he can’t account for the hostility.
But he is not about to back down, saying he won’t change the law which “is not anti-gay and does not allow people to discriminate”.
Speaking after condemnation from business leaders and rights groups, Pence has now pledged to pass legislation to help “clarify” the law’s intent.
He told the Indy Star: “I support religious liberty, and I support this law.
“But we are in discussions with legislative leaders to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”
However, when asked whether his new legislation would legally protect LGBT people, he said: “That’s not on my agenda.”
He also continued to insist the law does not sanction discrimination – despite businesses using it for exactly that already.
“Despite the irresponsible headlines that have appeared in the national media, this law is not about discrimination,” he said. “If it was, I would have vetoed it.
“I’m not going to take it (the criticism) lying down.”