Musicians boycott and protest against US states over homophobic laws

April 17, 2016
Bruce Springsteen.

Veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen made waves when he announced on his website on April 8 that he was cancelling a show in North Carolina in protest at a new bigoted law. Ringo Starr also cancelled a June show in North Carolina over what is often called the “bathroom” law — a new law that restricts which bathrooms trans people can use as well as restricting LGBTI rights to sue over discrimination.

Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, meanwhile, has cancelled a show in Mississippi over a new homophobic law that allows businesses and public employees to deny services to LGBTI people if they have a “sincerely held religious belief” that marriage should be between only a man and a woman.

Adams said: “I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation. Using my voice I stand in solidarity with all my LGBT friends to repeal this extremely discriminatory bill.

“Hopefully Mississippi will right itself and I can come back and perform for all of my many fans.”

In his statement, Springsteen said: “No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden [imposed by the new law].

“To my mind, it's an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognising the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters…

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.

In a Facebook statement on his decision to join the boycott, Starr said: “We need to take a stand against this hatred.”

Not all acts who oppose the bigoted law are boycotting, however. Against Me!, a left-wing punk band whose lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, is a proud transwoman, have opted to play in the state as a means to support the LGBTI community.

Grace told Buzzfeed: “Transgender people in North Carolina can't boycott their home. They live here. They pay taxes. They are prisoners to it.

“I'm going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.

“An attack by a transgender person against another person in a bathroom has never been documented. There are more incidents of straight senators having issues in bathrooms than transgender people.”

Grace asked activist groups to get in touch about organising stalls at the show.

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