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Canada issues warning for LGBTQ travelers in the United States

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(NEW YORK) — Canada’s travel advisory for visitors to the United States has been updated to warn LGBTQ travelers about laws and policies that may affect the community.

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” the travel advisory states. “Check relevant state and local laws.”

The ‘2S’ abbreviation refers to Two-Spirit, a term used in Indigenous and First Nations communities to describe people who are not straight or cisgender.

The travel advisory page links to a separate page of travel advice for LGBTQ residents, encouraging them to research and follow the laws of the country they are visiting, “even if these laws infringe on your human rights.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed the new travel advisory Tuesday, backing the decision of Global Affairs Canada, which oversees such advisories.

“Every Canadian government, very much including our government, needs to put at the center of everything we do the interests and the safety of every single Canadian and of every single group of Canadians,” Freeland told reporters in a press conference.

She continued, “That’s what we’re doing now, that’s what we’re always going to do.”

The U.S. has seen a rise in legislation targeting the LGBTQ community in recent years. Bills have increasingly targeted transgender health care, inclusion of LGBTQ identities in classroom content, public drag performances, and more.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2023, with at least 70 being enacted.

The HRC, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations, in June declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. The organization cited what they described as the record-breaking wave of legislation targeting the LGBTQ community and an increasingly hostile environment.

Ahead of Pride Month, celebrated in June, the Department of Homeland Security in May also warned law enforcement and government agencies about “intensified” threats of violence against the community within the previous year.

According to DHS, about 20% of all hate crimes reported throughout the country in 2021 were motivated by bias linked to sexual orientation and gender, citing the FBI’s hate crime statistics.

“The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous,” Kelley Robinson, the president of HRC, said in a statement.

She continued, “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.”

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