Gen Con responds to Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ act

Samuel Alexander

It’s not looking good in Indiana as Governor Mike Pence has decided to privately sign the ‘religious freedom’ bill which will allow business owners throughout the entire state to refuse service to members of the LGBT community. It’s also not looking good for the Government of Indiana as businesses are now being urged to boycott Indiana, refusing trade and services in the same way the state can now choose to refuse services to the LGBT community.

George Takei has weighed in on the issues, taking to twitter with the hashtag #BoycottIndiana which is now trending. Takei then took to Facebook to further express his outrage in more detail, urging fellow members of the LGBT community and our supporters to boycott the state unless they come to their senses.

In addition to many other high profile politicians and celebrities, a number of businesses and organisations are joining Takei in the boycott. Last year, Yelp threatened Arizona due to similar legislation and Indiana is no exception. Salesforce will also cease programs within Indiana. Additionally, the City of San Francisco, the NCAA, Eli Lilly and Company, Apple and the Disciples of Christ have all stood their ground to show Indiana that you don’t mess with the LGBT community.

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I was surprised to see a lot of attention gathering around one organisation in particular, Gen Con. The gaming and comic convention brings in $50 million a year to Indiana, but the organisers of the event aren’t happy to be bringing such a large sum to a discriminatory state. Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout has now begun discussing whether or not the convention should continue to be held in Indiana. Who said gamers shouldn’t be taken seriously?

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Swartout had already published an open letter earlier this week asking Pence to veto the bill as ‘legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the State of Indiana in future years.’

Unfortunately, Gen Con is under a contract with Indiana until 2020. However, Swartout assures that in order to move out of state, planning needs to happen now if the convention is going to take place again in 2021 free of Indiana.

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Despite being stuck in the state Swartout insists that the conventions leading up to 2021 will still be inclusive and fun, with messages pouring in from the Indianapolis business community stating they will still show their support and welcome all Gen Con attendees. Not only is this a touching show of support, it’s a stark message to the Government of Indiana that even business owners are not happy with the bill.

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As a gamer, I’m proud to see the gaming community take a stand against such discriminatory action. I often see a lot of infighting in gaming forum discussions and MMO gaming chats, particularly when it comes to the LGBT community. Right now, all of that seems like a distant memory, as I take pride that both communities are standing up together against this discriminatory action.

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It’s maddening to see that such a bill can still exist in our supposedly tolerant society, and I know I’m not alone there. Yet, there is a brighter side in the support that has been shown, proving that the LGBT community does not stand alone to be subject to discrimination. Help really does come from the most unlikely places sometimes, and I am grateful to Swartout, the rest of Gen Con and every business or individual that has stood up and spoken out against the Government of Indiana in regards to this bill. There is no place for such baseless discrimination in our society. My heart goes out to the LGBT community of Indiana.

About Samuel Alexander

Samuel is freelance writer, occasional illustrator, craft enthusiast and fan of all visual creative media. He is a published author who splits his time between client copy-writing and creative writing.