North Carolina is considering changes to its controversial “bathroom law” that ignited nationwide outrage — but critics say the changes don’t go nearly far enough.
As it stands, the law prevents local governments in North Carolina from passing nondiscrimination ordinances, and bans transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
But draft legislation obtained by Charlotte news station WBTV suggests lawmakers may be walking back portions of the bill. The biggest change in the draft would allow transgender people to provide certificates of sex reassignment to prove their new gender.
The draft would also increase penalties for certain felonies committed in public bathrooms and locker rooms, including sexual assault and rape — as well as establishing an “anti-discrimination task force” to review issues with the law.
The potential changes are a result of discussions between state officials and the NBA, according to WBTV.
League commissioner Adam Silver has said that the state must change the law in order for Charlotte to retain hosting privileges for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, and one source told WBTV the proposed legislation could help the city keep the event.
Still, critics panned the proposed changes, arguing that anything less than a full repeal of the law falls short.
“It is the legislative equivalent of throwing a glass of water on a burning building,” Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, told The Charlotte Observer.
Last month, the US Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits against each other over the law. The Justice Department argued that it violated the Civil Rights Act, putting the state at risk of losing more than $1 billion in federal funding.
Since its signing by Governor Pat McCrory in March, the law has triggered fierce opposition from businesses around the country. PayPal and Deutsche Bank froze major expansions in the state in April, costing North Carolina 650 jobs. A number of entertainers have canceled shows in the state, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Maroon 5.
There is no firm plan to vote on the draft before the General Assembly’s session ends on Saturday, according to Raleigh’s WRAL.
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