A judge has issued an injunction blocking part of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law as it applies to the University of North Carolina.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s HB 2 law rolls back LGBT anti-discrimination protections, ostensibly to stop transgender women from using the female bathroom.

But any such justification is fading fast – as a court ruled a key plank of the law,  which prevents transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity, effectively unenforceable.

Two transgender students and one employee at the University of North Carolina had brought the case against the state, alleging that the law is unconstitutional and violates federal education law.

Hearing their bid to block the law, US District Judge Thomas Schroeder ruled: “After careful consideration of the limited record presented thus far, the court concludes that the individual transgender Plaintiffs have made a clear showing that they are likely to succeed on their claim that Part I violates Title IX, as interpreted by the United States Department of Education.

“The balance of equities weighs in favour of an injunction; and an injunction is in the public interest.

“Accordingly, the court will enjoin UNC from enforcing Part I against the individual transgender Plaintiffs until the court reaches a final decision on the merits in this case.

“The University of North Carolina, its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with them are hereby ENJOINED from enforcing Part I of HB2 against the individual transgender Plaintiffs until further order of the court.”

The University itself had already confirmed that it would not seek to change any policies to enforce the law.

Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign said: “Even though UNC had already stated its intention not to enforce HB2, Judge Schroeder’s decision to block the deeply discriminatory provision guarantees that the student plaintiffs will not face negative consequences when exercising their right to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

“Instead of wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to defend the indefensible, Governor McCrory and state lawmakers should be working towards fully repealing HB2.

“They should be spending time working on improving education and growing jobs, not defending HB2 and inflicting further harm on the people, reputation, and economy of North Carolina.”

Matt Hirschy of Equality North Carolina said: “Today’s decision is an important step towards rectifying the harm HB2 has done to North Carolina — specifically the LGBTQ people that call North Carolina home.

“Judge Schroeder’s decision confirms that HB2 is a blatant attack on the transgender community.

“The preliminary injunction will provide much-needed relief to the brave plaintiffs, and we are confident that this is just the beginning in an unfortunately long journey towards a full repeal of the worst anti-LGBTQ law in the nation.”