US states under fire for anti-LGBT legislation

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal; North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Reuters)
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal; North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Reuters)

US states North Carolina and Georgia are under fire as their lawmakers make decisions that could severely impede the rights of their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

Hollywood is heaping pressure on Georgia not to pass a bill that will allow businesses to discriminate against and refuse service to members of the LGBT community.

Disney, Marvel Studios and AMC are among the entertainment companies taking a strong stance against the bill, some going as far as threatening a boycott against the state if it passes.

A letter from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has been sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who is considering whether or not to sign the bill into law.

The HRC letter has been signed by a number of Hollywood celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, James Gunn, Lee Daniels, Ryan Murphy, Seth MacFarlane, Harvey Weinstein, Marisa Tomei, Matt Bomer, Dustin Lance Black, Diablo Cody, Zoe Kravitz and Rob Reiner.

Meanwhile, North Carolina state Republicans have blocked the city of Charlotte from passing a non-discrimination law that would ban public places from being able to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or identity.

Citing an urban legend of men pretending to be transgender to lurk in public toilets and sexually assault women and children, conservatives are now effectively forcing trans-people to use the wrong toilet.

The state legislators, headed up by Republican Governor Pat McCrory, passed into law a bill that prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules -- including Charlotte's recent anti-discrimination ordinance.

Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts, who pressed to get the ordinance approved, says she is appalled by the legislature's actions.

"The General Assembly is on the wrong side of progress. It is on the wrong side of history," says Ms Roberts.

Democrats in the legislature called the law discriminatory and warned of economic boycotts, dramatically staging a walkout before the Senate unanimously passed the bill on a 32-0 vote.

"This is really not about bathrooms," Representative Rodney Moore, a Charlotte Democrat, said. "This is about fear."

Two other states - South Dakota and Tennessee - have recently seen their legislatures move on bills to revoke transgender bathroom and shower access.

Demonstrating the issue of forcing transgender people into the wrong toilets are people posting photos on social media with the hashtag #WeJustNeedtoPee.