Don’t visit Florida if you’re LGBTQ+, Human Rights Campaign warns: ‘It’s dangerous’

Protestors condemning Ron DeSantis' LGBTQ+ tirade in Florida, with signs reading "fuck DeSantis" and "kill fascism."

Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign have issued updated travel advice for LGBTQ+ people considering visiting or moving to Florida, telling queer people to “reconsider” their plans.

The new report details “risks associated with relocation or travel” to Florida following its relentless rollback of LGBTQ+ rights.

A joint report published on Tuesday (23 May) warns LGBTQ+ travellers to the state that they should make “a clear safety plan” on entering the state.

The organisations updated the report in reaction to six new bills signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis in May attacking LGBTQ+ rights in the state.

“Since the day he took office, governor DeSantis has weaponised his position to weave bigotry, hate, and discrimination into public law for his own political gain,” Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson said.

“We see it as our duty to join Equality Florida – and LULAC and the NAACP – to provide guidance to our community.”

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A group of protestors, with one raising their arm, condemn Florida governor ron DeSantis.
Equality Florida urged travellers to the state to exercise extreme caution. (Getty)

The report makes it explicitly clear that “travelling to Florida is dangerous” and recommends specific considerations for visitors.

It warns of “unconstitutional legislation” increasing the risk of violence and racial profiling, and urges visitors to “show extreme care” around the state’s airports and bus stations.

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It also recommends consulting an attorney before travelling to Florida “in order to assess the level of danger you may encounter in being searched, questioned, and/or arrested”.

The travel advice is also available in several different languages and features useful resources like cuttable cards detailing “your constitutional rights”, as well as a map of specific areas that are more or less safe in Florida.

“Those who visit must join us in their vocal opposition to these dangerous policies,” Kelley Robinson continued.

“Those who pick another place to work, to go to school or to spend their vacation should make clear why they’re not heading to Florida.

“To all of our friends and family in Florida, we stand with you and with Equality Florida – we’ll keep working hard to make Florida feel more like the home you deserve it to be.”

Florida governor Ron DeSantis to run for US president

Fears that Ron DeSantis’ vehemently anti-LGBTQ+ views could extend across the country have risen following confirmation that he is to run in the 2024 presidential election.

The Republican governor launched his campaign on Wednesday (24 May) after speculation on his intentions to bid for the White House had been ruminating for months.

His timeline of increasingly discriminatory rhetoric against marginalised communities has made his presidential bid a huge cause for concern, especially given the current state of legislation in Florida.

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Ron DeSantis speaking to a crowd, with lights and an American flag behind him.
Ron DeSantis confirmed his presidential bid this week. (Getty)

“Governor Ron DeSantis has inflicted deep and lasting damage upon our state,” Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith said, “eroding the fundamental rights of our residents and visitors while exploiting the word ‘free’ as a hollow campaign slogan.

“In free states, books are not banned, history remains uncensored, and healthcare is not criminalised.

“I empathise with every family forced to leave Florida in search of accessible healthcare and inclusive schools for their children.”

Laws such as the much-reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ legislation are examples of his willingness to silence anything he considers ‘woke’, as well as laws mitigating trans healthcare and banning trans people from using the correct bathrooms.

In the same week as his presidential campaign launch, DeSantis was hit with a legal complaint by the fast-food chain Hamburger Mary’s, who sued him over a law banning public, family-friendly drag performances.

The queer restaurant’s Orlando branch posted on Facebook on Monday (22 May) revealing that it had filed the complaint, arguing that the establishment’s First Amendment rights were under threat.

Officials also argued that the drag ban, signed earlier in May, was so vague that it could ban “even the most innocent drag performances”.

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