Canada has issued a travel warning for its citizens wanting to visit the US, as an increasing number of anti-LGBTQ laws have been adopted in several states across the country.
The warning does not give specific locations but says that “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons” and advises people to check relevant state and local news before travelling.
Every Canadian government (…) needs to put at the centre of everything we do the interest and the safety of every single Canadian and of every single group of Canadians.Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
“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”, the global affairs department of the Canadian government told CNN.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 495 bills targeting in one way or another LGBTQ rights have been proposed across the United States since the beginning of 2023. “While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people”, ACLU explains. This is already more than double the 180 similar bills passed in the entire of 2022 and an even more alarming increase compared to the 42 and 51 bills from 2018 and 1019 respectively.
On a more detailed page on “Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics”, the Canadian government warns that foreign laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada, which could force Canadian citizens to face certain barriers and risks when travelling outside the country.
Canadians are advised to research and prepare their trip in advance, especially looking out for laws that criminalize same-sex activities and relationships or criminalize people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. Travellers are also warned that some countries may use laws related to “vagrancy”, “public nuisance” or “public morals” to criminalize 2SLGBTQI+ people.
In June, advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), declared a national a state of emergency for LGBTQ people living in the US, “following an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year”. “More than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law this year alone, more than doubling last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record”, HRC highlighted.