Backlash over LGBT toilet law flushes income from state
WITH consumer confidence up in the US, the mood at the world's largest furniture trade show - in High Point, North Carolina - should have been buoyant.
Instead there was gloom and even anger.
The cause was a new law pushed through the Republican-majority state parliament in March called HB2. Also known as the "Bathroom Law", it seeks to undo some of the state's anti-discrimination protections for minority citizens - notably lesbians, gays and transsexuals in the LGBT community.
In public buildings any transsexual person in North Carolina may now only use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
The law was signed into effect by Republican Governor Pat McCrory within hours of its passage and has been followed by a furore - and economic pain.
North Carolina finds itself the target of ad hoc economic sanctions, the cost of which is escalating.
A handful of other US states have prohibited workers travelling to North Carolina on state business.
High-profile music acts Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen have cancelled concerts in North Carolina. Cirque du Soleil pulled an appearance.
Corporations such as Deutsche Bank and PayPal have put expansion plans on hold and the governing body for the lucrative collegiate basketball competition threatened on Thursday to take tournaments bound for North Carolina elsewhere.
Business conventions are being cancelled.
Attendance was down by as much as 30% at the furniture fair and its organisers said the HB2 law was doing significant economic damage to the market and the North Carolina economy.
The pressure is on to revisit HB2. Even the normally Republican-friendly Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce has joined in demanding a reconsideration of the law.
- THE INDEPENDENT