HARTFORD, CT – Indiana recently enacted a law that allows private businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community under the guise of religious freedom.

Connecticut has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for over twenty years, and has prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression for fifteen. Connecticut also has a history of religious tolerance, having enshrined the freedom of religion into our state constitution in 1818. Unlike some other states, Connecticut has tried to balance these two interests: government cannot substantially burden the religious beliefs of private individuals, except when furthering an interest like putting an end to discrimination.

“As made clear during the past week, when people, or states, are engaged in bigoted behavior, our collective voices must call it out,” said Gary Collins, Chairperson of the Commission.

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) is firmly committed to the belief that no one should be subjected to bigotry or discrimination, and that such acts should not be promoted by government. Religious beliefs must not be used as a free pass for discriminating against individuals on the basis of their immutable characteristics, be it race, color, ancestry, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. As the national conversation about the ways in which individuals are treated and mistreated continues to unfold, it is clear that the march of progress and tolerance has taken a step backward in Indiana.

“We applaud the recent action of Governor Malloy to limit state-funded travel to Indiana, and will continue to monitor developments in Indiana and other states with similar proposals,” said Executive Director Tanya Hughes.

“I am disheartened that Indiana would create such a broad legal avenue for discrimination against its own citizens,” added Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp.

The CHRO is one of the oldest state civil rights agencies in the nation, established in 1943. Its continuing mission is to “eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights law enforcement and to establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons within the state through advocacy and education.”