A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that plaintiffs challenging Mississippi's controversial “religious freedom” law lack standing.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves halted the law before it took effect. But Thursday's decision allows House Bill 1523 to go into effect.

“Under this current record, the plaintiffs have not shown an injury-in-fact caused by HB 1523 that would empower the district court or this court to rule on its constitutionality,” the panel wrote. “Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal.”

Mississippi's Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act allows businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” It also seeks to provide similar protections to individuals who object to transgender rights.

Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who signed House Bill 1523 into law, is defending the legislation on his own after Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood declined to appeal Reeves' ruling. Private attorneys, including some from the Christian conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, are working on the case.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, said in a statement that it was disappointed by the ruling and called HB 1523 “the most discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ state law in the country.”

“[The law] is a deliberate attempt to undermine marriage equality and the dignity of LGBTQ Mississippians who lawmakers have sworn to serve and protect,” HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill said.

Plaintiffs said they would appeal the ruling.