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Pepsi tells North Carolina to repeal its anti-LGBT legislation

Pepsi tells North Carolina to repeal its anti-LGBT legislation

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo has become the latest corporation to add its voice to the criticism of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation.

HB2 was passed in late March. It effectively bars any region in the state from introducing anti-LGBT discrimination protections that infringe upon religious freedom. It was prompted by the city of Charlotte passing a law to allow trans people to use restrooms in fitting with their gender identity.

Last week, HRC and Equality NC issued a joint letter to the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, that had been signed by over 80 leading CEOs and business leaders. The letter called upon the Governor to repeal the law.

McCrory has repeatedly voiced his support for the legislation and says his state is the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign that is labelling it as discriminatory.

On Friday, HRC announced that further business leaders who put their names to the letter, bringing the total number of signatories to over 120. New executives to add their names include those from Hyatt, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Northrop Grumman, American Apparel, Qualcomm, Twilio, Udacity, Pandora Media, and EMC Corporation.

At the same time, PepsiCo revealed that its CEO, Indra Nooyi, had written to McCrory asking him to repeal HB2.

PepsiCo was founded in New Bern, North Carolina nearly 120 years ago. It has grown to become one of the world’s most recognisable soft drinks brands, worth some $63billion. Besides its signature cola, it is also the parent company of Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker Oats, Tropicana, Cap’n Crunch Cereal, Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles, Lay’s, Cracker Jack, and Lipton, among others.

It continues to regularly hold its annual general meeting in the North Carolina city.

In the letter, Nooyi says, I was taken aback by the legislature’s recent action in passing HB2, as well as your decision to sign it into law so quickly.’

She says HB2 is ‘completely inconsistent with the way we treat members of the PepsiCo family; is at odds with our company’s historic experience in North Carolina; and is contrary to our values as a company.

‘You and I share a deep commitment to the people of North Carolina. Making sure this great state remains a place where businesses and individuals feel welcomed, valued and empowered to thrive is surely an area of common ground.

‘However, I fear this law is undermining our collective efforts to advance North Carolina’s long-term interest and I hope you’ll consider calling for its repeal in the next legislative session.’

The general assembly will reconvene on 25 April but there is so far little indication that the law will be repealed. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said last week, ‘an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians we’ve heard from support [HB2]’.