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North Carolina settles ‘bathroom bill’: Trans people can use loos matching gender identity

Ella Braidwood July 25, 2019

A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

A federal judge has ruled that trans and non-binary people in North Carolina must be allowed to use the public bathrooms of their choice.

The settlement approved by the judge on Tuesday (July 23) prohibits the government of North Carolina from banning trans people from using their preferred bathrooms in state buildings.

It is expected to end a three-year battle over the state’s controversial “bathroom bill.”

The “bathroom bill,” also known as HB2, was signed into law in North Carolina in March 2016, forcing trans people to use toilets in accordance with the gender marked on their birth certificate.

State government cannot stop trans people from using bathrooms of their choice, says settlement

Governor Roy Cooper. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

The law prompted backlash from celebrities and large businesses, with many boycotting the state over its anti-trans legislation, including the NBA, which moved its All-Star Game out of the state in 2016 costing North Carolina an estimated economic loss of $100 million.

The part of the law concerning bathroom use was later repealed following the opposition in March 2017. However, it was effectively replaced by another bill, known as HB142.

A lawsuit was subsequently brought against both pieces of legislation by civil rights groups ACLU and Lambda Legal.

Trans and non-binary people belong in public spaces. We belong in North Carolina. We belong everywhere.

Tuesday’s agreement between the plaintiffs and Democratic governor Roy Cooper , which is a consent decree, means that state agencies are not allowed to “bar, prohibit, block, deter, or impede any transgender individuals from using public facilities … in accordance with the transgender individual’s gender identity,” reports USA Today.

Ban on local anti-discrimination measures still in place in North Carolina

The agreement comes off the back of another victory for campaigners in October, when a district judge ruled “nothing in the language” of North Carolina’s legislation bars trans or non-binary people “from using public restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity.”

“After years of managing the anxiety of HB2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said lead plaintiff Joaquín Carcaño in a blog post on ACLU’s website on Wednesday (July 25).

“Being able to use facilities that match our gender is a basic necessity for participating in public life and being treated as full members of society. It is not a luxury.

“The nationwide outcry that followed these discriminatory laws sent a message that we still have to amplify now: Trans and non-binary people belong in public spaces. We belong in North Carolina. We belong everywhere.”

However, the agreement was not signed by the Republican leaders of the state’s general assembly, who passed HB2 and HB142.

Despite the settlement, part of HB142, which prevents cities from introducing anti-discrimination protections for LGBT+ people until 2020, is still in force.

Carcaño told USA Today that the law’s bar on anti-discrimination measures “remains devastating.

More: bathroom bill, hb2, North Carolina, US

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