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Canada warns LGBT travellers of US risks

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The Canadian government warns that some US states have enacted laws that may affect LBGT people.

Canada has issued a new travel warning to its LGBT citizens planning to visit the United States.

Anti-LGBT protests in the US rose 30-fold last year compared with 2017, while legal moves to restrict LGBT rights are on the rise.

Global Affairs Canada warned that some state laws may affect them on their travels, but did not specify where.

Such warnings are usually reserved for countries such as Uganda, Russia or Egypt.

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” reads its US travel advice page.

The term 2SLGBTQI+ is widely used in Canada for people who consider themselves two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or intersex.

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada pointed to US laws targeting the transgender community.

“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,” they told CBC News.

In March, Tennessee’s governor signed laws banning drag performances in front of children and restricting medical treatment for transgender youth.

Two months later, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed bills banning children from undergoing transgender medical treatments or going to drag shows, and restricting pronoun use in classrooms.

Hundreds of similar regulations on LGBT issues have been proposed in conservative-run states across the US.

The Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT community’s largest advocacy group in the US, said in June that LGBT Americans were facing a state of emergency as states continue targeting them with legislation.

On Monday, a mural in Florida dedicated to Belfast-born journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead in 2019, was defaced with a swastika and anti-LGBT graffiti.

Asked why the guidance had been updated, Canadian Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Atlantic Canada that the government employed experts “to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians”.

She declined to comment when asked whether there had been discussions with the US government before making the change.

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