LGBTQ+ citizens are at risk when traveling to the US due to numerous discriminatory laws passed at state level, the Canadian government has warned.
“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” the government’s website reads.
Although no US state or law was singled out, the news comes after a wave of discriminatory laws passed in predominantly Republican-controlled states. They include Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law, and bans against drag performances, gender-affirming care bans, transgender sports participation and bathroom use in states such as Kentucky, Texas, and Tennessee.
In a statement to CNN, the global affairs department of the Canadian government said: “Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the US have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care and from participation in sporting events.”
Canada has provided specific guidelines to its LGBTQ+ citizens traveling abroad: “Watch for laws that: criminalize same-sex activities and relationships [and] criminalize people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
“Some countries may use laws related to ‘vagrancy’, ‘public nuisance’ or ‘public morals’ to criminalize 2SLGBTQI+ people.”
Other groups have issued similar warnings. The LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency in June – Pride month.
HRC’s website says: “We have officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time following an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year.”
Earlier this month, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Mélanie Joly, said the government was strategizing ahead of the 2024 US presidential election, especially in the case it moves the US closer to far-right authoritarianism, the National Post reported.
Joly said: “In general, there is our game plan, precisely to be able to manage what could be a rather difficult situation.
“I will work with my colleagues and with the mayors, the provincial premiers, with the business community, with the unions, with everyone in the country, so that we are ready regardless of the election outcome.”