NBA Reverses Course in North Carolina, Dumps LGBTQ Stance Against Game Ban

Adam Silver
AP Photo/Chuck Burton

After making a big show of punishing North Carolina for its transgender bathroom bill, the National Basketball League has returned its All-Star Game to Charlotte. But some argue that in doing so, the NBA has sold out the LGBTQ community.

Last year the NBA made a big deal about shunning North Carolina over its HB2 bathroom law that required people to use government-operated bathrooms that correspond to their birth sex. The league pulled its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to punish the state for the law that activists labeled “anti-transgender.”

The law was enough of a sticking point that a Democrat won election to the governor’s mansion in the 2016 election, and after he had won Gov. Roy Cooper presided over a partial repeal of HB2.

Apparently claiming victory for social justice warriors, the NBA has now rewarded North Carolina with favored status by giving Charlotte the 2019 All-Star Game.

But, the NBA’s decision is still not sitting well with gay activists despite the repeal of the law. Many insist that the repeal didn’t go far enough because it prevents local municipalities from making their own bathroom ordinances. This means liberals cannot pass laws that support demands of gay activists who want cities to allow men pretending to be women to use any bathroom they like.

Transgender-pushing advocacy groups are furiously protesting North Carolina’s repeal that protects the sexual privacy of adults and children in public bathrooms and shower rooms because it doesn’t go far enough to suit them.

The compromise deal, titled HB142, ends near-term economic threats to the state’s business groups by sunsetting until 2020 the state’s sole authority to determine who can use what bathroom. After 2020, cities and counties will regain the power to write new legal rights for gays and for “transgender” people who want to live as members of the opposite sex, ensuring a later renewed political fight over “gender,” and over distinctions between the male and female sexes.

But, LGBTQ activists depart with the compromise because the state will keep sole control of privacy rules for the use of public restrooms and shower rooms unless liberal judges intervene and decide to create new rights for people who want to live as members of the opposite sex. Also, the state preserves its sole authority over the process by which people can formally change their legal sex.

Because of these compromises, LGBTQ activists feel they won the battle but lost the war over the bathroom law.

Enter the NBA to reverse its once-strong stance against North Carolina for its HB2 bathroom law. LGBTQ activists are lamenting the league’s decision to return to North Carolina and the NBA has been forced to reply to the complaints, according to ESPN.

NBA chief Adam Silver released a statement addressing the issue:

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. Additionally, it allows us to work with the leadership of the Hornets organization to apply a set of equality principles to ensure that every All-Star event will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies. All venues, hotels, and businesses we work with during All-Star will adhere to these policies as well.

Sports have a long history of helping to change attitudes around important social issues. We believe holding our All-Star activities in Charlotte will be a powerful way for the NBA to continue this tradition.

The Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign were not satisfied with the move, saying, “North Carolina’s discriminatory law prohibits the city of Charlotte from implementing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents and visitors attending the All-Star Game. Nothing has changed that fact,” a spokesman for HRC said.

Despite that the boycott of North Carolina really didn’t have much impact on the state’s finances, HRC and other gay activists want to continue the boycott until “transgender rights” are instituted in the state.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.