Politics & Government

Citing HB2, American Physical Society moves 2018 meeting from Charlotte

Members of the audience hold up signs before the start of the Charlotte City Council meeting to consider expanding the nondiscrimination ordinance, Feb. 22, 2016.
Members of the audience hold up signs before the start of the Charlotte City Council meeting to consider expanding the nondiscrimination ordinance, Feb. 22, 2016. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

A scientific group announced Thursday that it has canceled its 2018 conference that was scheduled for Charlotte because of House Bill 2.

The American Physical Society’s Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics was supposed to hold its meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center in May of that year. The Westin was the host hotel.

It will hold its meeting in Fort Lauderdale instead, the group said.

HB2, passed by the General Assembly in March, nullified Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that extended legal protections to gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. It also mandates that people use the bathroom in government buildings that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate.

Steven Rolston of the University of Maryland, a chair of the organization, said it’s unfortunate that Charlotte will be negatively affected by the cancellation.

“Although we were unhappy that withdrawing from Charlotte would punish the city whose ordinance precipitated HB2, we felt that it was imperative … (to) provide a welcoming environment for all members,” Rolston said.

Elena Long of the University of New Hampshire, a transgender physicist, supported the move.

“It speaks a lot more than words that this is truly a professional society that values all physicists,” Long said.

The cancellation comes after the NBA announced earlier this summer it was moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of HB2.

In late May, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said it had seven small events cancel at Charlotte hotels. The CRVA also said it has lost 13 events that were in the final selection process.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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