The North Carolina General Assembly held a special session to override gay and transgender protections at the local level.
The controversial bill HB 2 will block local governments from extending LGBT protections, and prevent transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with at school.
"Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections," Sarah Preston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in a statement.
The bill was passed in response to a local nondiscriminatory ordinance in Charlotte that provided protections for individuals based on their marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Those who were against the bill mainly opposed the idea of transgender people being allowed to use their preferred bathroom.
When the ordinance was adopted, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vowed to overturn it, claiming it creates "major public safety issues." Other Republicans argued that the ordinance would put women at risk because male predators will be able to enter women's bathrooms with ease.
The Human Rights Campaign's national press secretary Stephen Peters criticized HB 2 in a statement.
"Thousands of LGBT veterans have fought to secure our freedom, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the North Carolina legislature's willingness to wipe protections for local veterans off the books," he said in a statement. "Gov. McCrory must take a stand for fairness and equality for all and veto any bill that would increase the risk of discrimination."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper also criticized the bill.
"North Carolina is better than this," Cooper said in a video statement. "Discrimination is wrong, period. That North Carolina is making discrimination part of the law is shameful."