April 15, 2016 / 6:57 PM / a year ago

Cirque du Soleil cancels North Carolina shows over transgender law

3 Min Read

Artists from Cirque du Soleil perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, in this file photo taken January 4, 2014.Luke MacGregor/Files

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - Cirque du Soleil said on Friday it was canceling shows in North Carolina over a new state law that it called discriminatory, the performance group said on Friday, becoming the latest entertainment act to take a stance against the measure.

"The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all ... Cirque du Soleil believes in equality for all," the group said in an online statement.

North Carolina last month became the first state to enact a measure requiring transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in schools and other public facilities that correspond with their birth gender instead of the gender with which they identify.

The law also prohibits local governments from enacting anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and rock star Bruce Springsteen have canceled concerts in the state in protest of the law. Singer Cyndi Lauper said she would donate the profits of her June show in Raleigh to efforts to repeal it.

The decision by Cirque du Soleil, a privately held Canadian company, affects performances scheduled through July in Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh.

More than 160 business executives have signed a Human Rights Campaign letter pushing for the law to be repealed, and PayPal Holdings (PYPL.O) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) halted plans to add jobs in the state.

The National Basketball Association said on Friday that it had not yet decided whether to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte in reaction to the law.

"The current state of the law is problematic for the league, but we're not making any announcements now," Silver told a news conference after a two-day NBA board of governors meeting in New York. "We can be most constructive by working with the elected officials to effect change."

North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory on Tuesday tweaked the law with an executive order, adding protections against discrimination for state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But McCrory and top Republican lawmakers have stood firm on the provision targeting transgender bathroom access.

Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis, Piya Sinha-Roy and Frank Pingue; Editing by Grant McCool, Toni Reinhold

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