THE United States Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in an attempt to remove the controversial HB2 laws which it says violates the civil rights of trans people.

The HB2 laws were introduced in North Carolina and prevents people from using public restrooms not of the gender they were assigned at birth.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced the state’s Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina were also named in the lawsuit alongside Gov McCrory.

“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms,” Attorney General Lynch said.

“This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.  It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans.

“This is not a time to act out of fear.  This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness.  What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighboUrs, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.”

North Carolina filed a counter lawsuit only hours after the Justice Department launched its action against the state with Gov McCrory saying the Department’s legal action was a “baseless and blatant overreach”.

There has been a fierce national backlash against North Carolina’s discriminatory law, including from musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and Bryan Adams cancelling concerts in the state. Beyonce issued an open letter of support on her website for trans people and asked her fans to support a local LGBTI organisation by donating money or volunteering.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin commended Attorney General Lynch for “taking action to enforce the rule of law and protect the civil rights of all North Carolinians”.

“The U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that Governor McCrory’s HB2 is a discriminatory and dangerous piece of legislation that violates federal civil rights laws,” he said.

The HRC said North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars in economic activity just from companies cancelling or reconsidering plans to come to the state. and in cancelled conventions, concerts, and other lost tourism dollars. Nearly 200 leading CEOs and major business leaders have signed onto HRC and Equality NC’s open letter urging McCrory and the state’s General Assembly to repeal HB2.

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