The NBA released a statement Thursday condemning anti-LGBT legislation that passed in North Carolina this week, indicating it's possible the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game.
"The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events," the statement read. "We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not know yet what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte."
On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill that blocks its cities from allowing transgender individuals to use public restrooms of the gender they identify as, per Dave Philipps of the New York Times. Individuals will instead be forced to use the restrooms of their birth gender.
The law superseded an attempt by Charlotte's city government to allow transgender individuals to pick their restroom based on the gender of their choosing. The city council approved the bill in February despite the Republican governor's protestation.
North Carolina's new law has been widely criticized in the LGBT community as being discriminatory not only toward transgender individuals but gays and lesbians as well.
“North Carolina has gone against the trend,” said Sarah Preston, the executive director for the North Carolina office of the American Civil Liberties Union, per Philipps. “And they crafted a bill that was more extreme than others. They specifically left gays, lesbians and the transgender community out of the antidiscrimination policy. They want to make it plain that they think that kind of discrimination is OK."
The NBA has long been at the forefront of LGBT issues. It has fined stars like Kobe Bryant for anti-gay language and suspended Rajon Rondo earlier this season for a homophobic slur directed at referee Billy Kennedy, who is gay. Center Jason Collins also became the first openly gay player in the NBA in 2013.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Tim Bontemps of the New York Post in 2014:
I have mixed feelings, because I’m enormously proud that the first openly gay player is playing in the NBA. On the other hand, this is so long overdue that I don’t think this should necessarily be on the list of the greatest accomplishments of the NBA. This is an area where no one in sports should be too proud. Sports has led society in so many critical areas...this is one where we fell behind.
The NBA awarded the 2017 All-Star Game last summer. It would be an unprecedented step to strip a city of the event based on legislation outside the citizens' control, but it would also be a strong message in support of the LGBT community.
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