North Carolina “bathroom law” sparks rock boycotts

Pearl JamNorth Carolina “bathroom law” sparks rock boycotts

Pearl Jam, Boston cancel shows over anti-LGBT bill 

By David Sands
April 19, 2016

North Carolina’s contentious “bathroom law” has struck a negative chord with some big name rock acts, and they’re making their displeasure known by pulling out of concerts in the Tar Heel State. Boston, Pearl Jam and others have canceled shows in opposition to the controversial legislation which they feel discriminates against transgender people.

The controversial bill, HB2, decrees that bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools, universities and agencies may only be used by people in a manner corresponding to the sex assigned to them on their birth certificate. It also bans municipalities from establishing non-discrimination policies pertaining to gender identity. North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, signed HB2 into law last month.

Boston founder Tom Scholz (who plays bass as well as a variety of other instruments) recently announced his group had called off shows set for May 4-6 in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.  In a statement posted to his website, he expressed his hope that sacrificing the concerts dates would “inspire people to do the right thing in the future.”

“While the enjoyment of our fans is our central concern, and we have been looking forward to celebrating forty years of history performing for our listeners in North Carolina with spectacular live shows this spring, human rights are more important,” he said.

“We look forward to the day that the state government of North Carolina will come to its senses and treat ALL individuals with equal freedom in their pursuit of happiness here in the United States.”

Pearl Jam has likewise scrapped a planned April 20 date in Raleigh for similar reasons.

“The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens,” the band said in a collective statement posted to their website. “The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound.”

In their message, the group added that they’ve been in contact with local groups and would be “providing them with funds to help facillitate progress” on the issue. Pearl Jam is well known for their activism and philanthropy on social issues. Their bassist, Jeff Ament, for example, has contributed money to help build skateparks for economically disadvantaged communities like Native American reservations.

Other entertainment acts boycotting North Carolina over the “bathroom law” include Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Cirque du Soleil.

Public pressure over the issue has led Gov. McCrory to issue an executive order clarifying his position on the law. His order permits private businesses to create their own bathroom policies and reinstates some equal opportunity employment policies and litigation rights. It does not, however, change the most controversial elements of the new law.

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