The European Union issued a statement this week criticizing House Bill 2 and LGBT laws in Tennessee and Mississippi, saying the states are violating an international agreement on civil rights.
A statement posted on the EU website from spokeswoman Catherine Ray says the laws “discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons” and “contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. is a state party, and which states that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection.”
The covenant was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 and has been ratified by 167 countries. Under the U.S. Constitution, international treaties have the same authority as federal law. The covenant does not specifically list sexual orientation and gender identity among the categories protected from discrimination.
The covenant requires all signatories to “guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
The EU statement says that “as a consequence, cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI persons. These laws should be reconsidered as soon as possible.”
The statement says the EU is committed to equality for LGBT people. “We will continue to work to end all forms of discrimination and to counter attempts to embed or enhance discrimination wherever it occurs around the world,” it said.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign spokesman, Ricky Diaz, dismissed the EU move in a brief statement Friday afternoon.
“We relinquished our adherence to the British crown and European powers over 200 years ago,” Diaz said. “The law is now in federal court, where it will be resolved.”
N.C. Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said the move is “absolutely no surprise since North Carolina Democrats led by Roy Cooper want to install European socialist policies ... that are an affront to the common sense traditions of North Carolina and America.”
The EU is taking a similar position on House Bill 2 as the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently said the law’s controversial provision on transgender bathroom use violates the Civil Rights Act. North Carolina leaders have filed a lawsuit challenging that interpretation.
The EU’s statement isn’t the first time a foreign power has taken note of House Bill 2.
Last month, the British Foreign Office issued a travel advisory to warn its LGBT citizens of the new laws in North Carolina and Mississippi. The United Kingdom did not take a position for or against the new laws.