LONDON (AP) — President Barack Obama called Friday for the overturning of a North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms conforming to the sex on their birth certificates and restricts protections for LGBT people.
Obama criticized that law and others targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people during a news conference Friday in London. The United Kingdom had issued a travel advisory Tuesday warning British citizens about possible discrimination if they travel to certain U.S. states.
Obama said he wanted the British to know that people in North Carolina and other states that have pursued similar legislation are “wonderful people” and that British citizens should feel free to come and enjoy themselves. He said they’ll be treated with “extraordinary hospitality.”
“I also think the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned,” Obama said.
The president explained that he believed the laws were in response to “politics, in part,” as well as to “some strong emotions that are generated by people.”
Obama also emphasized that some of the laws’ proponents are “good people.”
“Although I respect their different viewpoints, I think it’s very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently,” Obama said.
North Carolina’s so-called bathroom law, among other things, requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates in state government buildings as well as public schools and universities.
A spokesman for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory responded to Obama’s comments by saying the governor agrees that all people are welcome to visit North Carolina and will be treated with extraordinary hospitality.
“However, the governor respectfully disagrees with the political left’s national agenda to mandate changes to basic, common-sense restroom norms,” said the spokesman, Josh Ellis.
North Carolina state Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican and one of the most vocal supporters of the law, responded to Obama’s comments in a press release stating that “not every father has the luxury of Secret Service agents protecting his daughters’ right to privacy in the girls’ bathroom.”
Berger has said the law protects women and girls from men using the false pretense of being transgender to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms.