LGBT leaders condemn ‘fake repeal’ of North Carolina’s bathroom bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

North Carolina officials have repealed the controversial HB2 bathroom law, but LGBT activists have angrily dismissed the deal.

HB2, which came into force a year ago, forces people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth.

An Associated Press investigation showed the state was set to lose more than $3.76 billion over the next 12 years because of the law.

Hours before the state was would have lost the possibility of hosting prestigious national college basketball matches, Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper announced a deal.

Though HB2 was repealed in the late-night agreement, regulation of multi-occupancy toilets would be left up to the state, and local authorities won’t be able to pass anti-LGBT-discrimination laws until December 2020.

The last of these provisions has prompted an outpouring of anger from many prominent LGBT activists, with Equality NC executive director Chris Sgro calling the deal a “fake repeal”.

The agreement will go to a vote at 9:15am on Thursday in the state’s Senate Rules Committee, then must pass two more votes on the Senate floor, before going to the House.

Governor Cooper, who ran for election on a platform of repealing HB2, said: “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals HB2 and begins to repair our reputation.”

In a joint statement, Majority Republican leaders Tim Moore and Phil Berger said: “Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy.”

But LGBT leaders were incandescent.

In a furious series of tweets, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said the agreement did not repeal HB2, as it still allows authorities to discriminate against LGBT citizens.

“HB2 ‘deal’ is a state-wide prohibition on equality that bans all cities & towns from passing nondiscrimination protections,” he wrote.

“If passed this proposal will box LGBTQ people out of local nondiscrimination protections in a state without statewide protections. No deal.

“This ‘deal’ does NOT repeal #HB2. It’s simply another version of HB2 dressed up in a way desperate lawmakers hope will save state’s economy.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality, said simply: “This is not a repeal. Just a cynical package that will continue to hurt NC and trans people.”