The NBA has announced that Charlotte, N.C., will host the 2019 All-Star Game, after the state partially repealed its controversial law that limited civil rights protections for LGBT people.
The professional basketball league moved last year’s All-Star game from Charlotte, where it was originally scheduled, to protest the state’s HB2 law.
“While we understand the concerns of those who say the repeal of HB2 did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
Today’s decision has drawn criticism from some transgender advocates, who say the state is still not providing adequate protections. “This is a disgrace from the NBA but not surprising,” Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the ACLU working on LGBT issues, wrote on Twitter. “Lessons in why you should never trust corporations as your allies.”
HB2 is also known as the “bathroom bill” because it said that in public institutions, transgender people must use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity.
The law created an intense backlash, ultimately costing the state an estimated $3.7 billion after businesses pulled out and events moved elsewhere.
In March, lawmakers came up with a compromise to partially repeal the measure – but “the deal prohibits local communities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances for at least three years,” as NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported. “That will block cities from imposing their own protections for LGBT people.”
The NBA commissioner said that the league would work with the Charlotte Hornets to “apply a set of equality principles” so that the game and other associated events “will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies.”
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, applauded the decision: “Hosting the All-Star Game will pump millions of dollars into our economy and provide an incredible showcase for our state, but it will also remind us of the work that remains to ensure equal rights and protections for all North Carolinians.”
Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player and Charlotte Hornets chairman, said he was “thrilled” about the announcement and emphasized that it would have a “tremendous economic impact to our community.”
Charlotte has been the focus of the state’s debate over the HB2 law. As Camila reported, “the city passed a measure protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses. It included a provision allowing trans people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender.”
State lawmakers then convened and rapidly passed the HB2 law, ultimately overriding the Charlotte city measure.
Other events that fled during the controversy are slowly coming back to the state; last month, the NCAA announced that it will bring back college sports events, though it said it was doing so “reluctantly,” as Camila reported.