Northeastern, Biogen slam North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law

Local institutions operating in North Carolina are concerned.

North Carolina lawmakers passed sweeping legislation invalidating local LGBT protections last week.

The president of Northeastern University, which operates a satellite campus in North Carolina, expressed “deep concerns” about the state’s hastily-passed law that sharply limits protections for LGBT people.

“At Northeastern University we believe diversity is a strength to be celebrated, not a source of division,” President Joseph Aoun said in a statement. “Diversity in all its forms—race, gender, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity—enhances the pursuit of knowledge and prepares people to thrive in a pluralistic society. We join with many other organizations in North Carolina, and across the country, in expressing our deep concerns about this new law.”

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The legislation, known as HB2, was introduced, approved, and signed into law in a one-day special session last week. The state law targeted Charlotte’s recently passed anti-discrimination ordinance, particularly its rule that would have given transgender people the right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

But HB2 went further than that, invalidating Charlotte’s entire anti-discrimination law and affirming that no city could enact any law that protects LGBT citizens from discrimination.

The legislation has sparked an outpouring of criticism from LGBT supporters as well as major businesses operating in the state, including Apple, IBM, Facebook, and even sports leagues like the NBA.

The CEO of Biogen, the Cambridge-based biotech giant and one of North Carolina’s largest employers, said the law was “patently unacceptable” in Raleigh’s The News and Observer:

“Eliminating an entire community’s protections is not only discriminatory, it is bad for business,” CEO George A. Scangos wrote. “Inclusive companies that remove barriers such as discrimination and prejudice are in the best position to compete and win the race for talent – and they will seek working environments that make this possible.”

Northeastern opened its Charlotte satellite campus in 2012, initially as a way to recruit professional workers to study for graduate degrees.

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