LGBT groups file lawsuit against North Carolina over 'Bathroom Bill' for discriminating against transgender people

Law past last week forbids transgender people from using the bathrooms of the gender they identify with

LGBT groups have launched a federal lawsuit a new law passed in North Carolina that forbids transgender people from using the public bathrooms of the gender they identify with. 

Last week, Governor Pat McCrory signed the so-called "Bathroom Bill" into law which will also prevent city authorities from passing their own anti-discrimination laws. 

The new rules come after the state’s largest city, Charlotte, passed an ordinance banning companies from discriminating against LGBT people.

Governor McCrory said he signed the bill as the Charlotte ordinance “didn’t make sense” as it would allow “men to use a women’s bathroom”. 

But on Monday, two individuals, a law professor and three LGBT groups - the American Civil Liberities Union of North Carolina, Equality North Carolina and Lambda Legal - filed the motion in a bid to have the law declared unconstitutional. 

In the filing the two named individuals, who were both born biologically female and now identify as male but have not changed their birth certificates, said they will now be forced to use male bathrooms and locker rooms which may “cause them fear and might lead to harassment”. 

The lawsuit also criticised the members of the General Assembly for their arguments that Charlotte's new ordinance needed to be overturned to protect women and children.

"By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, (the new law) violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution," the lawsuit reads. 

With the law, North Carolina became the first state to require public school and university students to use only those bathrooms that match their birth certificates, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. 

Advocates for LGBT rights say state legislators demonised them with bogus claims about bathroom risks. Supporters say the new law protects all people from having to share bathrooms with people who make them feel unsafe. 

The legislation comes as a surprise to many within the state as 64 per cent of residents say they are in favour of laws protecting LGBT people, according to a 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Additional reporting by AP