North Carolina 'bathroom bill' settlement approved

July 23 (Reuters) - Transgender people in North Carolina can use any public restroom in state-run buildings that conforms with their gender identity under a U.S. court settlement approved on Tuesday, in the latest turn of a long-running dispute that divided the state.

The settlement, which overturns part of a state law, ends a three-year legal fight by transgender people in North Carolina seeking the right to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

A 2016 North Carolina law, known as House Bill 2, required transgender people in state-run buildings use the bathrooms, changing rooms and showers that corresponded to the sex on their birth certificates.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented transgender plaintiffs seeking to block the law in court, arguing it violated their rights to equal protection and privacy under the U.S. Constitution.

"While this part of the court fight may be ending, so much urgent work remains as long as people who are LGBTQ are denied basic protections from violence and discrimination simply because of who they are," Irena Como, acting legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.

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Protests against North Carolina transgender bathroom law
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Protests against North Carolina transgender bathroom law
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A display inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina features books by authors who support the repeal of HB2 on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A sign next to the men's bathroom inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina denounces North Carolina's HB2 legislation on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A bulletin board inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina features upcoming author visits and events scheduled for the bookstore on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16 - Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16 - Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU - Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
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Some businesses and sports leagues boycotted North Carolina after passage of the law, which they saw as discriminatory against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Lawmakers in some other states had proposed similar legislation that failed to advance.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder ruled in 2016 that the state's university system must allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration also challenged the law in court.

Facing pressure in the courts, the North Carolina legislature in 2017 replaced House Bill 2 with House Bill 142.

The bill stated that the state legislature had the power to regulate bathroom access, but the legislature did not take action at that time to define access.

The new law left transgender people in limbo, according to the ACLU, which amended its lawsuit to challenge the new law.

The ACLU and the group Lambda Legal later reached a settlement with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, the ACLU said in a statement. It went to Schroeder for final approval.

Schroeder, in an eight-page ruling on Tuesday, said the settlement bars state officials from using the legislation "to prevent transgender people from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity."

The Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly filed court papers opposing the settlement.

House Bill 142 continues to prohibit cities in North Carolina from creating their own ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination until December 2020, and that was not affected by the agreement, according to the ACLU. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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