in Analysis and Commentary

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly saw the introduction of a so-called “bipartisan repeal” for HB2, the anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-worker legislation which overturned Charlotte’s LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections and directly targeted trans people and their use of public facilities, among other harmful effects, including minimum-wage restrictions and tightening of employment discrimination claims.

The new bill, HB186, claims to accomplish several tasks, chief among them and heralded by its sponsors and supporters is a repeal of HB2. Business leaders including corporate bigwigs at Charlotte’s largest companies have begun to come out in favor of this so-called “repeal.”

Here’s the reality: HB186 accomplishes nothing, repeals nothing, helps no one and will, if implemented, cause inconceivably, exponentially more harm to minority communities than the most ardent HB2 supporters and anti-queer ideologues could have ever imagined.

As Equality NC’s Chris Sgro and the North Carolina NAACP’s Rev. William Barber wrote in a weekend op-ed, the same day Equality NC teamed up with HRC on a full-page ad in favor of full HB2 repeal:

Make no mistake, this new measure would double down on the most discriminatory provisions of HB2 – only reinforcing the damage. The measure would continue to prevent equal access to facilities by transgender people, exclude LGBTQ people from crucial non-discrimination protections and fail to rectify the discrimination and harm we have been fighting against for the past year.

If you haven’t read Sgro’s and Barber’s op-ed, I suggest you do.

Be sure to also take a look below for my more concise, three-point write up on the dangers of HB186.

Share with your friends and acquaintances and contact your representatives of the North Carolina General Assembly and tell them to come out against HB186 and in favor of a full, clean repeal of HB2.

Here are three ways that HB186 will further harm, not protect, LGBTQ people in North Carolina:

1. HB186 does not repeal restrictions from HB2

HB2 prohibited transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity. HB186 will do the same thing, and keep regulations over use of public facilities within the purview of the General Assembly. The discrimination protested by large companies, the ACC, the NCAA and other bodies will remain intact, albeit in a new form and under a new name. HB186 will continue to discriminate against transgender people.

2. HB186 will criminalize transgender people

Under current law with HB2, transgender people are directly targeted and told they cannot use public facilities consistent with their gender identity. Yet, as of now, the law contains no enforcement or criminal mechanism. HB186 would change this, adding a slew of new and enhanced criminal penalties and minimum sentencing standards for those charged and convicted with certain crimes in public facilities like restrooms, locker rooms and showers. Whether through implicit bias or outright profiling of transgender people, there is a 100-percent, ironclad guarantee that trans people will be among the first targeted by these new criminal penalties.

3. HB186 will effectively shutdown any and all local LGBTQ non-discrimination progress

For the first time ever, under HB186, North Carolina will put into place a referendum mechanism by which any effort to ensure LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections can be overturned by the people. A small minority of voters would be able to petition to have a non-discrimination ordinance put up to public vote. A petition for such a referendum would require just 10 percent of those who voted in the last municipal election. In Charlotte, using 2015 election results, that means less than 10,000 people in a city of nearly 1 million could effectively rule by mob tyranny.

This is not how our republic works. We do not put minority rights on the ballot. The last time we did so en masse, when dozens of states prohibited same-gender marriage through ballot initiatives, they were all struck down as unconstitutional.

In short, HB186 is far more dangerous than HB2 could have ever been.

If passed, HB186 will criminalize trans people, will put trans and gender non-conforming people (of any gender or sexual orientation) at greater risk for over-policing and public harassment, will not repeal any of the anti-trans discrimination currently present in HB2 and will allow local non-discrimination ordinances to be voted on by referendum. If you thought HB2 was the worst anti-LGBTQ piece of legislation in the country, you are wrong — HB186 is exponentially worse.


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