THREE states in the US have had anti-LGBT legislation opposed or altogether halted by major business and sporting bodies this week.
In North Carolina, state lawmakers removed protections for LGBT people, while similar so-called “religious freedom” bills were proposed in both Georgia and Missouri.
The law removes all existing LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances across the state, and forces trans people to use public bathrooms matching the sex on their birth certificates.
The state legislature rushed the bill through in a special session after a local city council added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination law.
However, in a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, chief executive officers of 80 major corporations urged him to overturn the bill.
“Put simply, HB 2 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies, of our country, or even the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians”, the letter reads.
“The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business.”
— James P Sheffield (@JayShef) March 24, 2016
The letter, which was drafted in cooperation with the Human Rights Campaign, added: “This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.”
Signatories of the letter include big name chief executives such as Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of both Square and Twitter, and Sundar Pichai of Google.
In Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal yesterday vetoed a “religious freedom” bill that would allow individuals and groups to refuse to conduct business with LGBT people.
The governor had also received intense pressure from corporate groups – including businesses based in state capital Atlanta, like Coca-Cola and Home Depot.
Disney, Unilever and Salesforce all pledged to stop doing business with the state should the bill pass, while the NFL leant heavily upon the governor by openly suggesting an anti-LGBT law would disqualify the state from hosting the Superbowl.
“NFL policies emphasise tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Associated Press.
“Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”
Vetoing the bill, Deal said: “I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.”
In Missouri, a Kansas City Sports Commission report found the state’s proposed “religious freedom” bill could end up costing more than $50 million annually in lost business and revenue.
In an open letter circulated last week, the commission’s chief executive Kathy Nelson wrote: “The proposed constitutional amendment will have a detrimental effect on our ability to attract future sports business to Missouri and terminate the millions of dollars of visitor spending our sports industry generates on a yearly basis”.