Major Convention Threatens Boycott Against Georgia Anti-Gay Legislation

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March 27, 2015 3:24 p.m.

The CEO of the major science fiction and fantasy convention Dragon Con warned Georgia lawmakers of a massive industry boycott if the state passes a anti-gay, religious freedom bill.

The warning by the head of the Atlanta convention that claims attendance of over 50,000 came the same day that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed similar legislation in his state. Both bills would allow businesses to refuse to serve people based on religious objections, which critics argue would effectively let businesses discriminate against gays.

“Should this bill become law, we will seek written assurances from all of our business partners that they will not participate in any discriminatory behavior on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other point of identification. We have no intention now or in the future of supporting a business partner that discriminates,” Dragon Con CEO Pat Henry said in a statement.

The future of the Georgia bill is uncertain. It was tabled by Georgia’s House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

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Prominent public figures, like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, and other business leaders have spoken out against similar legislation elsewhere. Major companies have said they plan to boycott or withdraw business in Indiana in protest of the fresh law there. The tabletop gaming convention Gen Con, in the lead up to the Indiana vote, threatened to boycott the state in protest. But Gen Con’s convention contract isn’t up until 2020.

Read the full statement below:

Dragon Con is proud of its long history of accepting all fans, no matter who they are today, or who they want to be during the convention. Which is why we are closely monitoring the religious rights bill currently under consideration by the Georgia House of Representatives. At the same time, we are working through the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, which are actively lobbying against this discriminatory bill, to make our opinion known to Georgia legislators.

Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had. Our founders and our convention leaders all have deep family roots in the metropolitan area. Over the last 29 years, we have seen the city change considerably, almost always for the better. We have great faith that our state’s leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians. Legislation that hurts one of us, hurts us all.

Should this bill become law, we will seek written assurances from all of our business partners that they will not participate in any discriminatory behavior on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other point of identification. We have no intention now or in the future of supporting a business partner that discriminates.

(H/t: Georgia Tipsheet)

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