Activists Arrested Protesting N.C. Anti-LGBT Law

Raleigh Protest

Several demonstrators were arrested Thursday evening as they gathered outside the North Carolina governor’s mansion in Raleigh to protest a new state law nullifying local LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

The protesters were arrested for blocking the street in front of the mansion, local TV station WRAL reports. The exact number of arrestees was not available.

A large crowd gathered near the mansion to decry the measure, passed quickly Wednesday by both houses of the state legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. It prevents any municipality in the state from enacting or enforcing a nondiscrimination law broader than the state’s — which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation was passed in a special session called to deal with a new Charlotte ordinance that was set to go into effect April 1. The ordinance would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s existing nondiscrimination law regarding public accommodations, meaning businesses and other institutions open to the general public would be prohibited from discriminating against LGBT people.

Most of the opposition to the ordinance focused on the fact that it would have allowed transgender people to use the public restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities that comport with their gender identity rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. The law passed Wednesday nullifies the ordinance and prevents other cities from enacting similar ones.  

At today’s protest, those objecting to the ordinance’s nullification carried signs with slogans including “Trans People Are Not Second-Class Citizens” and “Did We Vote on Your Bathroom?”

McCrory, who is up for reelection this year, and other politicians who supported striking down the Charlotte law claimed to be protecting privacy, raising the debunked argument that allowing trans people to use the proper restroom for their identity would somehow endanger women and children. In reality, though more than 200 localities have trans-inclusive public accommodations ordinances, there has never been a single verified instance of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in the bathroom, nor has anyone "pretended" to be transgender in order to assault people in sex-segrated spaces. Even if such an assault did occur, such conduct would remain illegal under criminal statues, and would not be impacted by any local ordinance. Transgender people are actually more likely to be the victims of violence and harassment in bathrooms and locker rooms than their cisgender peers. 

“Standing with North Carolina parents who are worried about the privacy and safety of their children will always be a top priority for the governor, no matter the spin by the media, pundits, or politically correct crowd,” said Ricky Diaz, deputy campaign manager of communications for McCrory’s campaign, WRAL reports.

North Carolina Democrats, LGBT groups, and several major businesses have already condemned the new state law.

Watch WRAL’s report below.

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