MIAMI: The National Basketball Association and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday (Friday in Manila) rejected revisions to North Carolina’s gender bathroom law, which critics say discriminates against transgender people.
“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” a joint statement released by the NBA said.
The pro basketball league is using a strong lever to pressure the state to repeal the controversial measure, known as House Bill 2, or HB2: a threat to move the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, scheduled to take place in Charlotte in February.
“We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all,” the statement added.
“We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward.”
The Hornets are owned by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan, viewed by some as the greatest player the game has ever known, adding an extra measure of scrutiny on the decision by the team about transgender bathroom access.
Enacted in March by Republican Governor Pat McCrory, the law requires people to use bathrooms that correspond to their genders at birth, not their gender identities, and prevents local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances.
Yielding to pressure from numerous celebrities, sports organizations and companies that urged a boycott of North Carolina, a group of state legislators amended some of the law’s text.
Leaked to local media on Tuesday, it must still be approved by the state legislature.
But critics say it does not go far enough and are demanding the law be repealed.
“Now I have to show my birth certificate to go to a restroom? It’s just ridiculous,” Mavis, 45, a nurse in Raleigh. North Carolina told Agence France-Presse recently, declining to give her last name.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said two weeks ago that the law was “problematic,” but would not say whether another venue for the All-Star Game was being considered.
“There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game,” Thursday’s statement said.
The draft of the revisions, obtained by the local television station WBTV, recognizes changed genders via documents that serve as the equivalent of birth certificates.
However, the text does not mention the use of public toilets.
Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the rights of LGBT people, tweeted: “Encouraged by the @NBA’s statement & hope lawmakers will finally come to the table and do what’s right: #RepealHB2.”
“This proposal is totally unacceptable,” Mike Meno, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, told AFP.
“It does nothing to protect LGBT people in North Carolina.”
“Instead, it doubles down on discrimination,” he added.
“The only way to stop the damage caused by HB2 is to fully repeal it once and for all.”