(OTTAWA) In an update to its advice for travelers to the United States released Tuesday, Canada warns members of the LGBTQ community that they may face discrimination if they travel to certain states.
Global Affairs Canada says Canadians should check the laws of affected states, as some have new policies and laws “that could affect LGBTQ people.”
Eighteen states have passed laws that limit or outright ban gender-affirming medical care for minors, and more than a dozen have already passed or are considering laws that limit or ban gender-affirming medical education. sexual orientation in schools.
The US Department of Homeland Security also warned in May that threats of violence against the LGBTQ community were becoming more frequent and intense.
Unlike similar warnings issued for several other countries, such as Tanzania or Egypt, Canada’s warning for the United States does not specify which states or which of their laws or customs are of concern. It simply states that travelers should check the local laws of their destination before traveling.
On a more general page devoted to advice for international LGBTQ travelers, the government provides links to resources for researching relevant laws around the world.
“Think carefully about whether you are comfortable visiting a destination where laws and social customs affecting (LGBTQ) people differ from those in Canada,” the government warns.
It also says that if these people choose to use an X in their passport where they identify their gender, they could face discrimination in some places.
In May, the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, a US-based LGBTQ advocacy group, were among several civil rights groups issuing their own travel advisories specifically for Florida. It came after Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, signed into law restrictions on drag queen shows, the use of restrooms that do not match the gender assigned at birth and the use of preferred pronouns in schools.
Florida teachers are also now required to teach that sex is “an immutable biological trait” and that students should only use the pronoun of sex on a person’s birth certificate. They also cannot teach anything about gender identity or sexual orientation until high school. This bill is dubbed by its opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill.
Advocacy groups said their advice is not to avoid Florida at all costs, but that if people choose to travel there anyway, they should take the opportunity to speak out against the laws, and s if they chose not to, they should clearly explain why.
Asked about the change, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said travel advisories issued by Global Affairs Canada are based on advice from professionals in the department, whose job it is to monitor specific hazards that could affect Canadian travellers.
“The warnings our government puts out for Canadians traveling abroad are not political,” Freeland said.
She would not comment specifically on the warning about the United States or its potential effect on Canada-U.S. relations, but said the interests and safety of all Canadians are the government’s priority.
“We are capable of managing this relationship regardless of the choice the American people make,” Ms. Freeland said.
“While we work hard on this government-to-government relationship, every Canadian government, including our government, must put the interests and security of every Canadian and every group of Canadians at the center of everything we do,” said she added.
In a written statement, US Ambassador David Cohen did not directly address the new travel warning, but said his country “stands for equality and equal treatment for all”.
“The United States is committed to promoting tolerance, inclusion, justice, and dignity while helping to advance equality for the LGBTQI community,” he wrote.
“We must all continue to do this work with our like-minded partners, not just in the United States and Canada, but around the world,” he added.