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Violinist Itzhak Perlman scraps North Carolina concert over 'discriminatory' law

Violinist Itzhak Perlman performs during a tribute concert to composer Marvin Hamlisch in New York, New York, United States on September 18, 2012. — Reuters pic
Violinist Itzhak Perlman performs during a tribute concert to composer Marvin Hamlisch in New York, New York, United States on September 18, 2012. — Reuters pic

WINSTON-SALEM (North Carolina), May 18 — Renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman yesterday became the latest entertainer to cancel a performance in North Carolina to protest against the state’s law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their sex at birth.

The Israeli-born musician was to perform tonight with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh.

In a statement on Facebook, he quoted US Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recent comments that the law was about more than just bathrooms but also “the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens.”

“I couldn’t agree more and will look forward to returning to North Carolina when this discriminatory law is repealed,” said Perlman, who performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

North Carolina in March became the first state in the country to ban people from using multiple-occupancy public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The law also blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances that include protections based gender identity and sexual orientation.

Republican lawmakers who support the bathroom measure say it is needed to protect safety and privacy, but last week the US Justice Department asked a federal district court to declare that the state is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Perlman, a Grammy Award winner, is the latest in a line of performers who have backed out of shows in North Carolina in a stand against the law. 

They include Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Boston, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and the group Cirque du Soleil. 

Companies and conventions also have boycotted the state.

In an essay published by The Hill news site yesterday, musician Elton John said North Carolina lawmakers needed to reverse course and get “a lesson in compassion”.

Failing to consider the experiences of transgender people is a “brand of ignorance (that) deliberately shuts out the perspective of an already marginalized community”, John wrote. 

“It’s dangerous, and it goes beyond bathrooms.” — Reuters 

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