Canada warns LGBTQ+ citizens travelling to US of risks in certain states - read updated travel advice
The Canadian Government has updated its travel advice for those wishing to visit the United States
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The country has updated its government travel advice page for the US, warning those in the community to be cautious when visiting certain states. It comes after figures showed that anti-LGBTQ+ protests in the US increased thirty-fold last year compared with in 2017, while several states have also been moving to restrict LGBTQ+ rights - particularly those of transgender people.
Florida for instance was criticised last year for a law forbidding teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with schoolchildren, in a bill critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay”. Meanwhile, Alabama recently enforced a ban on providing gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, and states such as Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas, have all filed bills banning drag shows.
Canada’s travel advisory page for the US does not specify which parts of the country it is referring to, instead writing: “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws.”
The advisory then links to a webpage detailing general travel safety advice for 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians, noting: “Not all countries have the same values and laws that we have in Canada. It is important to be informed about the legal framework and social customs which govern sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics in your destination country.”
2SLGBTQI+ is an expanded term widely used in Canada to refer to those who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or intersex (2SLGBTQI+).
Commenting on the new advice, Canada’s deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland said it was issued on behalf of experts who “look carefully around the world” and “monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians”.
When asked to explain the reason for the change, she continued: “Every Canadian Government needs to put at the centre of everything we do the interest and the safety of every single Canadian and every single group of Canadians. That is what we are doing.”
Freeland dismissed suggestions that the updated advisory could offend the US - Canada’s closest neighbour - remarking: “I think our government has shown that [managing that relationship] is a priority... regardless of the choices that the people of the United States make.”
The US is currently the most popular tourist destination for Canadians, with residents returning from a considerable 2.8 million trips south of the border in June 2023 alone.
But according to official data released last year, Canada is home to around a million people aged 15 years and above who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or with a sexual orientation which differs from heterosexuality. This constitutes around 4% of the population.
In 2016, according to The Times, the UK Foreign Office updated its own advice for LGBTQ+ travellers planning a trip to the US. It warned that tourists could be affected by legal changes in North Carolina, which had introduced a so-called “bathroom law” preventing transgender people from using lavatories corresponding to their chosen gender identity.
The advice was also reportedly prompted by a newly-drafted religious liberties bill in Mississippi, which critics argued allowed businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
Currently, there are no references to individual states on the Foreign Office’s website, with the advice instead stating: “The USA is a very diverse society and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people differ hugely across the country. Read our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.”