At a time of great, for Christians the greatest, religious significance, it is sad to see how backwards the world still is when it comes to religion and sexual preference.

In recent times we've seen horror stories from Russia and the Middle East in particular in which homosexuals have been persecuted. The Isis militant group has been reported to have thrown men off buildings to their deaths for being gay.

Now we see the United States split over new "religious freedom" laws being introduced at state level.

Indiana in particular has faced a fierce backlash over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, with critics, and it has been reported some supporters, saying it allows businesses to deny service to lesbian and gay customers if it offends the religious beliefs of that business. Major businesses, sporting organisations and events have cried foul and lawmakers are having to sit up and take notice before the backlash does real damage to the state economy.

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Putting aside the notion that a business entity can have a religious belief, who on Earth would want a law that allows for discrimination like this?

It's almost difficult to believe now the extent of enforced racial segregation in relatively recent times in Western countries we consider similar to ours.

Can you really imagine a world now where a business can have a sign at the door that says "No gays"?

It doesn't matter if the original intent was to allow people to practise their religion without interference, a noble aim perhaps (what about religions where beliefs conflict with local laws?), the language in Indiana's act would seem to allow discrimination and therefore deserves the opprobrium.

In a front-page editorial The Indianapolis Star said yesterday the state's reputation was on the line. As the clamour grows the state's leadership is simultaneously defending the law and having to consider changing it. The pressure isn't one-way though - 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls have backed the law as it is.

The world is moving slowly forward when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality, but often it seems the world is moving just as quickly backwards.