Restaurant owners in South Carolina to be forced to accept transgender guests

Charleston, S.C. (AP) Restaurant owners and employees in South Carolinas have been forced to accommodate transgender customers, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

In a preliminary injunction filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston, Judge David Bunning said the businesses will be required to “meet the requirements of the ADA and provide equal treatment to all people regardless of race, gender identity, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression, veteran status, or any other relevant factor.”

The order said transgender customers have a “special place in America” and are “a vital part of our economy, culture and society.”

Bunning ruled that the business owners had failed to show that their refusal to host a transgender customer would cause “significant hardship” to their business or hurt the businesses’ bottom line.

He also said the owners had not demonstrated that they have a reasonable basis for denying a transgender person access to the restaurant or would not violate the federal civil rights law.

The ruling means that transgender people in South Africa, France, Spain and the United Kingdom will not be able to enter the restaurants they have leased in those countries.

The decision comes as South Carolina, which had been one of the most conservative states in the country, has struggled to enact a law requiring businesses to allow transgender people to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

The state also did not allow same-sex marriage in 2012.

Bunning’s order said the business’s failure to accommodate the transgender patrons would not “result in significant financial loss” for the businesses, though he did not provide any estimates for what might happen if they did not comply.