Springsteen cancels North Carolina concert over biased law

NEW YORK • Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in North Carolina last weekend in protest of the state's new law on gay and transgender rights, becoming perhaps the most prominent cultural figure to speak out against it.

The rock star, who is on tour with the E Street Band, was due to play at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, yesterday.

But in a statement posted to his website last Friday afternoon, he said he was cancelling the show in opposition to the law, which bars transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not match their sex at birth. He called the law "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".

The law, passed last month, has drawn complaints from business and political leaders and has been widely condemned on social media.

Top executives at Starbucks, Facebook, Apple, Citibank and dozens of other companies have signed a public letter asking Governor Pat McCrory to repeal the law. Online- payment company PayPal cancelled plans to open an operations centre in Charlotte, North Carolina, that would have employed more than 400 people and involved a US$3.6-million (S$4.8-million) investment in the state.

In the entertainment world, Lionsgate and the A&E network said they will not film movies and television shows in North Carolina because of the law. Composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz said he will not allow productions of his shows, which include Wicked and Pippin, to be performed in the state.

The Obama administration is also considering whether the law makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid.

In his statement, Springsteen noted the many people and organisations opposing the law and said he and his band were cancelling the show "to show solidarity for these freedom fighters".

"Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry... is one of them," he wrote. "It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forward."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Springsteen cancels North Carolina concert over biased law'. Print Edition | Subscribe