Thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against a new bill that restricts gay rights, and bathroom access for transgender people in public buildings. An equal number of anti-LGBT supporters gathered in North Carolina's capital city Raleigh to take part in the rally.
Over 50 protestors were arrested when they refused to leave the legislative building at the time of closing on Monday night.
The Republican leaders have decided to let their new discrimination law remain the same, which roughly bans access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to state courts for employment discrimination. The LGBT community has also been asked to use public toilets according to their gender at birth. Besides, the bill prevents local municipalities from passing their own LGBT anti-discrimination regulations.
However, hundreds of conservatives have rallied to show their support for the law, known as House Bill 2 and praised the leaders for passing the restrictions on gay rights.
"It took great courage for them to establish this bill," an 82-year-old supporter from Raleigh, Doug Woods told the Associated Press. "They need to stand firm."
Many protestors gathered around the assembly building in hopes of hearing their leaders withdraw the law. But when it was announced it would remain intact, critics termed the bill 'Hate Bill 2' while chanting "North Carolina sticks together", and referring to the law by its initials — "We won't do HB2."
The head of the state of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), Rev William Barber has said that "it affects the poor and minorities as well as the LGBT community, despite conservative efforts to depict it as a law focused on bathroom safety.
"We make a mistake when we call it the 'bathroom bill'", he said.
Many businesses including Apple, Pay Pal, and Bank of America have voiced their opinion criticising the bill.
Although the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in 2015, this new law has put the state at the centre of a national debate in the US for its discrimination against the rights of LGBT people over equality and privacy for all.
Many law opponents now fear the state's reputation because of this. The New York Times has reported the state representative of Democrat leader Darren G Jackson as saying that he "can't get over the fact that the [US] President and the Prime Minister [of UK] were talking about us in an international news conference where they were talking about the fate of the European Union and some other major issues."
"That's not what I want to project for the state of North Carolina."