- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2016

Pop group Maroon 5 on Friday canceled two concerts scheduled to be held in North Carolina over a state law regulating public bathroom access on the basis of biological sex, but the group is still set to play in several Eastern European nations that allocate far fewer rights to LGBT people.

The musical group said in a statement that the decision to pull out of North Carolina was “difficult.”

“We don’t want to penalize our fans in North Carolina by not performing for them, but in the end it comes down to what we feel is morally right,” the band said in a statement posted to its website.

The shows were scheduled for Sept. 11 in Charlotte and Sept. 12 in Raleigh.

The group has yet to determine whether it will similarly cancel upcoming concerts in various Eastern European countries with far fewer LGBT protections than are available in North Carolina.

For instance, Maroon 5 is scheduled to play June 3 in Moscow, Russia, where gay marriage is illegal; on June 5 in Bucharest, Romania, where same-sex unions are not recognized by the state; and on June 7 in Batumi, Georgia, where marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.

Russia in 2013 passed a law barring “propaganda for nontraditional sexual relationships,” which has been used to dismiss gay people from their jobs or to suppress pro-LGBT speech. Gay activists were arrested last year after holding a rally that was not sanctioned for approval by the state.

Lawmakers have also considered a bill that would make public displays of “non-traditional sexual relations” a crime punishable by up to 15 days in prison.

Maroon 5 caps off the Slavic swing with a June 9 concert in Antalya, Turkey, where same-sex relations are not recognized and gay people cannot serve openly in the military. Otherwise eligible draftees who disclose their same-sex desire are deemed unfit for service, with homosexuality viewed as a psychological disorder.

Universal Music Group could not be reached for comment about the status of those shows.

Maroon 5 is the latest musical act to cancel events in North Carolina over the passage of HB2, which opponents contend discriminates against transgender people, who wish to use the facilities of the opposite sex.

The musicians join Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, among others, who have refused to perform in the state.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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