The NBA basketball league will move its 2017 All-Star game from North Carolina in protest about a state law that it says discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
House Bill 2, or HB2, invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected LGBT people.
The relocation is one of a number of high-profile consequences of the bill, including musicians cancelling gigs.
The NBA said a new location would be announced in the coming weeks.
The league said in a statement: “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
The exhibition game, which generates millions of dollars for its host state, could return to Charlotte in 2019 if there was an “appropriate resolution to this matter”, the NBA said.
HB2 made North Carolina the first US state to require transgender people to use public toilets that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
A number of musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Itzhak Perlman, have cancelled concerts in the state in protest against the bill and major businesses such as PayPal, Bank of America, and Apple have said they will boycott the law.
North Carolina’s Republican governor Pat McCrory issued a statement following the decision claiming that a “sports and entertainment elite” had “misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present”.
LGBT rights advocates praised the NBA’s decision. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “Today the NBA and Commissioner (Adam) Silver sent a clear message that they won’t stand for discrimination against LGBTQ employees, players or fans.”
He added: “We appreciate the leadership of the NBA in standing up for equality and call once again on lawmakers to repeal this vile HB2 law.”
Former NBA player Jason Collins tweeted: “As a member of the NBA family and as a gay man, I’m extremely proud to see the NBA take [the] initiative and move the All Star game from North Carolina.
“Their decision is an extremely poignant one and shows that discrimination of any kind is not welcome in sports and is not acceptable in any part of our society. The NBA has set the best kind of example and precedent moving forward for all to follow.”
Kevin Durant, one of the sport’s biggest stars, tweeted: “I recognize this was a tough decision for the NBA but I respect the choice. Discrimination of any kind cannot be allowed.”