PayPal Cancels Plans for Charlotte Hub Over 'Bathroom Bill,' But Explores Business Opportunities in Cuba

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Apr 05, 2016 3:30 PM
PayPal Cancels Plans for Charlotte Hub Over 'Bathroom Bill,' But Explores Business Opportunities in Cuba

The CEO of PayPal announced today that the company is withdrawing its plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, due to North Carolina’s new law that prevents local governments from passing their own anti-discrimination measures.

The state legislature moved quickly last month to overturn a Charlotte city ordnance that required all businesses to demand that biological men identifying as women could use women’s restrooms, showers, or locker rooms, Gov. Pat McCrory explained on Fox News last month. The state legislature rejected this notion and determined that it’s up to businesses to make that determination, not government.

“That is an expectation of privacy that must be honored and respected,” McCrory said recently. “Instead, North Carolina has been the target of a vicious nationwide smear campaign.”

And this ‘nationwide smear campaign’ has now cost the state roughly 400 jobs, as PayPal believes the law “perpetuates discrimination” and violates the company’s values and principles.

“As a company that is committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable,” President and CEO Dan Schulman wrote.

Just last month, however, Schulman was recently exploring business opportunities in Cuba, where it was once a crime to be gay, and those involved in this ‘deviant lifestyle’ were sent to prison and labor camps. Things have vastly improved for the LGBT community on the island nation in recent years but it’s a far cry from, well, rainbows and butterflies.

"The reality for the LGBT community in Cuba is very different from that described by the international media," Ignacio Estrada told Foreign Policy. "We live under constant government surveillance and harassment, while at the same time being manipulated for their political purposes."

Many others agree—members of the LGBT community continue to be harassed and detained by police and have a hard time finding work. One gay activist and independent journalist even relayed to FP the time he was rounded up, beaten in the face with a rock, and had information he was carrying about a Christian LGBT group stolen. He is all but certain his attackers were state security agents.

Meanwhile, all North Carolina wants to do is have people use the bathroom/locker room that corresponds to their biological sex, not their gender identity. If a transgender person has transitioned to the opposite sex and changed their birth certificate, no problem, they won’t be affected by the law. As McCrory has pointed out time and again, it boils down to public safety and privacy. Under Charlotte’s anti-discrimination rule, anyone who called themselves transgender could’ve entered a women’s restroom or locker room—even, perhaps, sex offenders. There are more than enough stories from around the country to back up lawmakers’ concerns about basic privacy and etiquette.

The amount of backlash—and now hypocrisy—over North Carolina’s law is truly absurd. Unfortunately, it probably won't die down anytime soon, either.

Update: PayPal's hypocrisy knows no bounds, apparently.