North Carolina legislators fail to repeal controversial 'bathroom bill'

Governor-elect Roy Cooper said the legislature failed in their "chance to do the right thing"

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File photo. Image: Toby Talbot / AP/Press Association Images

Legislators in the US state of North Carolina have failed to repeal the state's controversial 'bathroom bill', with Republicans and Democrats pointing the finger at each other after an apparent deal collapsed.

The controversial 'House Bill 2' was passed in March, following a local ordinance issued by the city of Charlotte on transgender bathroom access and banning discrimination against LBGT people.

The state legislation banned local ordinances on these issues, and introduced laws requiring people to use the bathroom of their biological sex "which is stated on a person's birth certificate".

The so-called 'bathroom bill' provoked a major backlash both in the US and internationally. Stars such as Bruce Springsteen cancelled concerts in the state in protest, while the NBA announced they were moving a planned all-star game from North Carolina.

There were also more direct economic consequences - PayPal, for example, announced it would "not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte" as the law "perpetuates discrimination".

Earlier this week, the city of Charlotte announced it would remove remaining aspects of its original ordinance as part of a deal to facilitate full repeal of the state bill.

However, legislators at the state's General Assembly failed to repeal the bill during a special session called for yesterday.

The Guardian reports that gay rights activists and Democrats objected to an additional proposal that would have seen a six-month moratorium or 'cooling off period' on local ordinances regulating employment practices and bathroom access.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers blamed each other for the failure.

The Democratic North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper said: "Today the legislature had the chance to do the right thing for North Carolina - and they failed.

"People want us to work together for the good of our state. I know there were enough Democratic and Republican votes in the House and in the Senate to fully repeal House Bill 2 if they had just been given a chance. The Republican legislative leaders have broken their word to me, and they have broken their trust with the people of North Carolina."

The state's Senate leader Phil Berger, meanwhile, said: “Make no mistake: Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats killed the repeal of HB2, abandoning Roy Cooper’s commitment to avoid divisive social issues by shooting down a temporary cooling off period on ordinances like the one that got us into this mess last March.

“Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation and our economy,” he added.

Charlotte authorities, meanwhile, said they were disappointed with the 'unfortunate outcome'.