Top lawmaker: Discriminatory North Carolina law will stay in place

Top lawmaker: Discriminatory North Carolina law will stay in place
In this April 16, 2016 photo, a statue draped in a rainbow flag showing support against HB2, North Carolina's law on LGBT rights, is displayed at Whitehall Antiques showroom located in the Suites at Market Square, in High Point, N.C. Photo: (Jessica Nuzzo/The Enterprise via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina legislative leader said Wednesday he doesn’t see the need to repeal or revise a law that limits protections for the LGBT community.

At a news conference on the upcoming legislative session, state Senate leader Phil Berger referred to the law as “our commonsense bathroom safety bill” for its measures governing transgender bathroom access in many public buildings.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are also excluded from statewide workplace and public accommodation protections in the law, which triggered widespread criticism from equality advocates and business leaders nationwide.

But Berger, a Republican, said he doesn’t think the law enacted in March needs to be altered when lawmakers return next week.

“I don’t know that I would at any point be ready to say we are going to make any changes. I just don’t see the need for it,” he said.

Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican, has urged lawmakers to restore the ability to use state law to file workplace discrimination lawsuits, which was disallowed by the legislation.

Asked multiple times for his response to McCrory’s request, Berger said simply: “We will listen to the governor’s proposal.”

The law also requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in state government buildings as well as public schools and universities. Supporters say the law protects privacy and safety in public bathrooms.

Berger’s remarks came a day after a federal appeals court sided with a transgender student who argued that his Virginia school district violated federal education discrimination laws by forbidding him from using the boys’ bathroom. The appeals court’s territory includes North Carolina.

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