The city of Oxford, Ala. has unanimously passed a law making going to the bathroom not corresponding to your birth-gender punishable by a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.
The law came in response to Target's announced policy that they would not discriminate against trans men and women who use the bathroom of their choice, the Associated Press reports. There is a Target in Oxford, population 21,348. A nationwide petition to boycott the big box retailer recently hit 1 million signatures.
According to The Anniston (Ala.) Star, City Council President Steven Waits said he'd received an “overwhelming” number of complaints from residents regarding Target's policy announcement.
Unlike the "bathroom bill," known as HB2, passed in North Carolina, Oxford's ordinance applies to any bathroom in the city, not just publicly funded facilities, the Christian Science Monitor reports. HB2 also lacks explicit enforcement clauses.
Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge explained to AL.com how the law would be enforced.
"If somebody sees something that makes them uncomfortable, they would call the police," he was quoted by Al.com as saying. "If the person is still there when the officer arrives, the officer has to witness the crime. Then we take down the person's information, and the person who reported it has to sign out a warrant."
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blasted the new ordinance.
“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick in a statement. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice.
One Target shopper in Oxford told the Monitor the law goes too far.
“[I don't understand] punishing people who already have really hard lives,” Whitney Kirby said.
Oxford is known as the hometown of former Ku Klax Klan leader and novelist Asa Earl Carter.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.