Obama: Bathroom laws in MS and NC 'should be overturned'

President Obama on Friday condemned state laws in North Carolina and Mississippi that have been criticized as discriminatory and are threatening to undermine the states’ tourism industries.

The laws “are wrong,” Obama said during a press conference in London, days after the United Kingdom issued a warning to travelers about the legislation.


“They should be overturned, and they were in response to politics in part, in part some strong emotions that are generated by people, some of whom are good people, but I just disagree with them.” 

At the same time, however, Obama insisted that the pair of new laws should not discourage tourists from visiting the two states.  

“I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people,” Obama added. “If you guys come to North Carolina or Mississippi, everybody will be treated well.”

The laws have been condemned as discriminatory by LGBT-rights advocates. In response, major entertainers have abandoned planned events in the states, and officials have worried that tourism dollars could dwindle.

The North Carolina law would bar local municipalities from passing nondiscrimination laws and would also require that people use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex assigned at birth. The law in Mississippi allows people and businesses to deny service to customers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender on religious grounds.

Earlier this week, the U.K. Foreign Office issued a notice that “LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi,” in an advisory that critics of the laws called a remarkable show of opposition. 

The Foreign Office advisories are designed to give advice to travelers “dispassionately” and “impartially,” U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, standing alongside Obama on Friday. 

“Our view on any of these things is that we believe we ought to use law to try to end discrimination, rather than try to embed it or enhance it,” he added. “The laws people pass is a matter for their own legislatures. We make view clear our own views about the importance of trying to end discrimination.”

Cameron said that he had never been to Mississippi but had been to North Carolina once “and enjoyed it.”

This story was updated at 1:17 p.m.