Itzhak Perlman pulls out of North Carolina concert over discriminatory transgender ‘bathroom law’

18 May 2016, 10:01 | Updated: 18 May 2016, 10:37

‘Loss will be significant,’ says North Carolina Symphony as Perlman joins boycott supported by Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr.

Itzhak Perlman has joined a burgeoning protest against ‘House Bill 2’, a law in the US state of North Carolina that has been widely criticised as discriminatory against transgender people by cancelling a planned performance with the North Carolina Symphony tonight.

The legendary violinist, who suffered polio as a child and uses crutches or a wheelchair for mobility, explained his decision on his Facebook page:

The controversial House Bill 2 forces transgender people to use the toilet facility in government buildings that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. Perlman said of the bill: "It's hostile and ugly. They call it the bathroom bill, but that's only one iota of what it's all about. The important thing is what the bill does across the board.”

Perlman was congratulated by many, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova:

However, others questioned why Perlman had not cancelled earlier, given that the controversial bill has been making headlines for months.

Other artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato and Ringo Starr, have already cancelled concerts in protest at House Bill 2.

Perlman said he had intended to perform in order to support the musicians of the North Carolina Symphony and donate the proceeds to LGBT group Equality North Carolina.

Perlman finally pulled out when he was told he would not be able to publish a note explaining his opposition to House Bill 2 in the concert programme.

In a statement, orchestra spokeswoman Linda Charlton said:

"The North Carolina Symphony welcomes all people with our hearts and minds open, and we are honoured to share our music-making with everyone. However, as a non-partisan organisation, our performances are not an appropriate forum for political commentary.”

Charlton said the North Carolina Symphony, which is state-run, received $4.07 million in state funding for the 2015-2016 season.

Charlton told the News & Observer that the show had been sold out to the tune of 1,700 tickets. She wouldn’t reveal how much money the cancellation would deprive the orchestra of, but said, “The loss will be significant."