(Reuters) - The NBA has awarded its 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans, the Associated Press reported on Friday, a month after removing it from Charlotte, North Carolina, to protest a state law forcing transgender people to use public restrooms matching their gender assigned at birth.
The AP cited a person familiar with the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had yet to be announced by the league. NBA representatives were unavailable for comment.
The National Basketball Association had expressed its opposition to state House Bill 2, or HB2, since it was passed in March and tried to work with state officials to change the law before ultimately making a decision to relocate its mid-February exhibition game.
Moving the event out of North Carolina follows similar moves by top entertainers who have canceled shows in North Carolina, including Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Boston, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and the circus group Cirque du Soleil.
The exhibition, seen as an economic boon to the city that hosts it, could be rescheduled for Charlotte in 2019 if there is an "appropriate resolution to this matter," the NBA has said.
New Orleans, which hosted the game in 2008 and 2014, had previously been identified in a Yahoo report as the leading candidate to be awarded the game.
HB2 made North Carolina the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
Civil rights advocates have criticized the law as hostile toward transgender people and praised the NBA for punishing the state. The law also has the effect of requiring transgender men, many of whom wear facial hair and obviously masculine clothing, to use the women's room alongside young girls.
Backers of the law, including North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, have said boys and girls should be able to use public bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without fear of the opposite sex being present.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)