Arizona governor vetoes anti-gay law

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The governor of the US state of Arizona vetoed a controversial bill on Wednesday that would have let businesses refuse to serve gays and lesbians for religious reasons.

Triggering applause from gay rights groups, hardline Republican Jan Brewer said the measure was "broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences."

"After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago," she said.

The bill, passed by lawmakers last week, had provoked anger from rights campaigners who said the south-west state was "on the wrong side of history."

But supporters said it would protect the religious freedom of business owners.

"As we witness hostility towards people of faith grow like never before, we must take this opportunity to speak up for religious liberty," the Centre for Arizona Policy pressure group said last week.

Critics of the measure, who had gathered to hear the widely expected announcement, erupted into applause and dancing when Ms Brewer announced her veto.

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon and tourism, a mainstay of the local economy, could have taken a hit had the bill become law.