North Carolina plans a law which would legalise discrimination against LGBT people

Senator Jeff Jackson said: 'If this was once about bathrooms, it no longer is. This is an historic rollback of civil rights across the board.'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 23 March 2016 16:58
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Republican senator Paul Stam gathers with lawmakers to discuss the bill
Republican senator Paul Stam gathers with lawmakers to discuss the bill

One big step forwards, one possible massive leap backwards for LGBT rights in the state of North Carolina.

Just a few weeks after the city of Charlotte passed a bill that would prevent businesses from discriminating against LGBT people, the state of North Carolina has sought to overturn the law and in effect make it legal for all cities in the state to discriminate.

Governor Pat McCrory warned the Charlotte City Council before the bill was passed that the law would most likely prompt the state to overturn the measure, a view that was echoed by House Speaker Tim Moore.

The North Carolina legislature held a one-day session to consider a sweeping anti-LGBT bill, which would not only repeal the new law in Charlotte but would also ban any future bills in the state designed to protect LGBT people. The one-day session cost the taxpayer $42,000.

Senator Jeff Jackson said the bill is “an historic rollback of civil rights across the board”.

Sarah McBride, from the Center for American Process, called the bill “one of the most extreme, anti-LGBT bills we’ve seen yet”.

As Vox reported, the bill overturns and bans local laws that do not confirm to the state’s nondiscrimination laws for the workplace, hotels and restaurants and any place that serves the public.

The state does not currently ban discrimination based on sexual orientation therefore the new sweeping bill would force all cities and counties to legalise discrimination against LGBT people.

The bill would also ban transgender people from using multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms, perpetuating the myth that men dressed as women would attack women in bathrooms.

While North Carolina legally permits discrimination against LGBT people, like most states, discrimination based on race and religion is commonly outlawed.

The startling piece of legislation comes despite the majority - 64 per cent - of North Carolina residents being in favour of laws protecting LGBT people, according to a 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

In Missouri earlier this month Republicans used a rare move to cut off filibustering Democrats in order to push through a bill that would protect businesses and individuals who refused to provide services to same-sex couples.

But there has been some progress elsewhere. This week Tennessee lawmakers killed a controversial “bathroom bill” which would force transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their birth gender.

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