Why Canada’s Warning Its LGBTQ+ Residents About Travel to the U.S.

Author: Trudy Ring

The summer travel season is winding down, but many of us like to travel in the fall to view changing leaves or winter to either enjoy snow sports, escape to a warmer climate, or celebrate holidays with family and friends. But increasingly, there are warnings that certain places aren’t safe for LGBTQ+ people.

In the latest move, Canada’s government has urged the nation’s LGBTQ+ residents to consider their safety when traveling to the U.S. There’s an advisory on Canada’s official web page for travelers.

What Is the Canadian travel advisory for LGBTQ+ people?

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” the advisory reads. More Canadians travel to the U.S. than to any other destination.

The government relies on experts “to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters about the advisory, according to Reuters.

Freeland did not mention specific states. However, this year more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills — a record — have been introduced in 43 states around the U.S., and about 80 have become law, the Human Rights Campaign reports.

Many of the bills specifically target transgender people, particularly trans youth. Over the past couple of years, 22 states have enacted laws banning or restricting gender-affirming care for trans minors; some of them are blocked by court rulings.

The laws against gender-affirming care are affecting all LGBTQ+ people, both trans and cisgender, youth and adults. Nearly eight in 10 LGBTQ+ adults report feeling less safe as a result of gender-affirming care bans, and nearly half report that these bans impact the physical and/or mental health of themselves or their loved ones, according to a recent survey by Community Marketing Insight and the HRC Foundation.

Among other topics in this rash of legislation are efforts to limit or ban LGBTQ+ content in schools, restrict drag performances, or allow refusal of goods or services to LGBTQ+ people by those who have religious objections.

Beyond the legislative threats, there have been many protests at drag shows and other LGBTQ-focused events or at school board meetings where queer issues are being discussed. There were more than 160 protests and threats against drag performances in the U.S. in 2022, according to GLAAD.

Sometimes there’s violence, as in a firebomb attack on an Oklahoma doughnut shop that had hosted a drag event and, recently in California, the fatal shooting of a business owner who displayed a Pride flag at her store. And violence against trans Americans remains at epidemic levels.

What other LGBTQ+ travel warnings are there about the U.S.?

In April, Equality Florida issued a travel advisory saying, “Florida may not be a safe place to visit or take up residence.”

Florida has been a leader in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including the nation’s first “don’t say gay” law, banning instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. It also has banned gender-affirming care for trans minors, restricted drag performances, and regulated which restrooms trans people can use in certain venues.

Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Florida has severely restricted abortion access as well and targeted lessons about racial matters in schools to essentially teach that Black Americans didn’t really suffer under slavery and discrimination. DeSantis has touted his state as “where woke goes to die,” using “woke” as a catchall term for everything the far right hates.

“We understand everyone must weigh the risks and decide what is best for their safety, but whether you stay away, leave or remain we ask that you join us in countering these relentless attacks,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said in issuing the advisory. “Help reimagine and build a Florida that is truly safe for and open to all, and where freedom is a reality, not a hollow campaign slogan.”

Are LGBTQ+ Americans in a state of emergency?

Yes, according to HRC. The organization declared the state of emergency in June — LGBTQ+ Pride Month. It cited the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and other attacks on the community.

“The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said in making the announcement. “In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk.”

HRC has released a guidebook with information and resources to help LGBTQ+ people stay safe while living or traveling in most hostile areas of the U.S. It is part of a larger effort by HRC, which will put out more resources in the next few months.

Pictured: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Pride celebration

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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