San Francisco mayor bans travel to North Carolina as anger over 'anti-LGBT law' mounts

The passage of the bill has sparked outcry across the country

The city of San Francisco has banned its employees from traveling to North Carolina after the state passed legislation that many say encourages discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

Last Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a sweeping law that ended anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays and bisexuals. It also stopped transgender people from using lavatories that do not match the gender they were born with.

The legislation was introduced after the city of Charlotte last month passed its own bill to permit transgender people to use public toilets that correspond with their gender identity, rather than their gender at birth. It also prevented cities in the state from taking measures to protecting gays and bisexual people against discrimination.

The move has sparked widespread dismay and criticism. Companies such as American Airlines, which has its corporate headquarters in Charlotte, issued statements critical of the bill. So did Apple, Dow Chemical, PayPal, Red Hat and Biogen. The National Basketball Association said it was considering moving the 2017 All-Star game from the state. 

The movie director Rob Reiner joined the criticism, saying that he would not produce films in North Carolina until it repeals the new law.

On Friday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement that he did not want city employees to travel to the state unless "absolutely" necessary.

“We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” he said.

"Effective immediately, I am directing city departments under my authority to bar any publicly-funded city employee travel to the state of North Carolina that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety.”

Gay rights leaders and transgender people said the legislation in North Carolina has demonised the community. They said the law will deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people essential protections needed to ensure they can get a hotel room, taxi or restaurant reservation without fear of being turned down.

“McCrory's reckless decision to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the rights, well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state,” said the Human Rights Campaign.

The Associated Press said that Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who had pressed to get the anti-discrimination ordinance approved, said she was appalled by the legislature's actions.

“The general assembly is on the wrong side of progress. It is on the wrong side of history,” Ms Roberts said.

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