The National Basketball Association announced on Thursday that it is withdrawing its February 2017 All-Star-Game from Charlotte, N.C. to protest a controversial state law that overturned anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
In a statement, the NBA said its decision to relocate the All-Star Game to another state came after months of discussions with state officials over what it hoped would lead to a modification of the law known as HB2.
“We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league,” the statement says. “These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”
HB2 prohibits municipalities in the state from passing nondiscrimination laws that include protections for LGBT people. It had the immediate effect of overturning such a law passed by the city of Charlotte. It also prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity in government buildings and schools.
The NBA statement says the Charlotte Hornets, the professional basketball team in that city, joined the NBA in urging state officials to consider changing HB2 to remove its provisions that the basketball association considers discriminatory.
“It is also important to stress that the City of Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment and that the Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons – including members of the LGBT community – feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena,” the statement says.
“We look forward to restarting plans for our All-Star festivities in Charlotte for 2019 provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter,” the statement adds.
At least three national LGBT rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, hailed the action by the NBA as yet another important step in prodding the North Carolina Legislature and governor to repeal HB2.
HRC noted that major film studios and corporations ranging from PayPal to Deutsche Bank have stopped investments in the state in reaction to HB2, resulting in at least $329 million in lost revenue and business.
“We thank the NBA for taking a strong stand in opposition to HB2 because the law’s targeted and unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, particularly against transgender young people and adults, is inconsistent with their values and goals,” Lambda Legal said in a statement.
The NBA announcement that it was moving its All-Star Game out of North Carolina came on the same day that the National Center for Transgender Equality arranged for the broadcast of an unprecedented commercial on the Fox News Network during the Republican National Convention that addresses bathroom discrimination for trans people.
The commercial depicts a scene at an office where a man appearing to be someone in authority tries to block a transgender woman from using the women’s bathroom. Two female co-workers intervene on behalf of the trans woman by escorting her into the women’s bathroom as a narrator explains how transgender people are being subjected to discrimination and humiliation over public bathroom related issues.
“We hope this ad will open some eyes and hopefully change some hearts and minds too,” NCTE said in a statement.
The NCTE statement says the TV commercial debuted on Fox News on Thursday night during the Republican National Convention and will air on MSNBC during the Democratic National Convention next week.