The NBA announced on Thursday that the 2017 All-Star game will not occur in Charlotte, citing North Carolina’s House Bill 2 as the reason for the move. House Bill 2, also known as HB2 or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, is an anti-LGBT legislation passed in March which forces transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their gender at birth, while eliminating anti-discrimination protection of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. The game, scheduled for February 19, 2017 at Time Warner Cable Arena, will be relocated, with the announcement of the new site coming in the next couple of weeks. The NBA hopes to bring the All-Star game back to Charlotte in 2019, anticipating that the law will be changed by then.
In the league’s statement, they said, “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.” The full statement from the NBA can be found here.
Soon after the decision to move the game was announced, and without specifically mentioning the NBA, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released a statement which said, “The sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present.” The full statement from Governor McCrory can be found here.
The NBA is not the only sports entity negatively reacting to HB2. The NCAA has tournament games scheduled to occur in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018, and they have stated their concern for the legislation. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has their football championships scheduled to be played in Charlotte until 2019, but ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said the league will consider moving the game outside of the state unless North Carolina repeals HB2. It was rumored that ESPN eliminated Charlotte from contention to host the future Summer X Games when they released a statement saying they “embrace diversity and will evaluate all of our options.”
Under HB2, it explicitly states that no one can be discriminated based upon their race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on their birth certificate. Note that HB2 does not protect people who are gay, nor did any other previous law in North Carolina. The new law also takes away the right for municipalities to establish different standards for public bathrooms. This is mostly affecting transgender people who have not legally, nor surgically, taken steps to change the gender stated on their birth certificates. Unless the transgender people have taken the above steps to change their gender, they must use public bathrooms for the gender stated on their birth certificate. Although a federal law protecting citizens from laws like these has been proposed for years, it has not passed and there is no current federal law that specifically prohibits discrimination against the LGBT community’s jobs.
LGBT members have no protection against getting fired in the workplace for identifying as such, and the state’s bill solidifies that they have no intention to make LGBT members a protected class. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against HB2, while there are also lawsuits supporting the law. Many other states have passed similar legislation to HB2.
One thing is for certain: The sports and entertainment world may endure more changes in the future of events held in North Carolina if the law is not changed or repealed.