Canada issues advisory to warn LGBTQ+ people travelling to the US

Canada's travel advisory has been updated to warn LGBTQ+ travellers about the US.

Canada has updated its travel advisory for the United States, warning its LGBTQ+ residents that they may be affected by some state laws if they travel across the border.

As more US states pass damaging laws that limit LGBTQ+ rights, prohibit teaching about gender and sexual orientation in schools, and restrict gender-affirming care for minors, other countries are starting to take notice.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC), which advises on subjects like entry requirements, visas, border control, and cultural and legal differences in other territories, has now been updated to advise LGBTQ+ visitors to the US to check state and local laws before planning a trip.

As of Tuesday (29 August), the Canadian travel advisory’s ‘Laws and Culture’ section, which warns citizens of risks when travelling to the US, has been updated to recognise the risks posed to LGBTQ+ people.

The update reads: “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws.”

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Canada has updated its travel advisory to warn LGBTQ+ citizens about the US. (Matthew Chattle/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The advice doesn’t name any law or state policy in particular, though it does provide a link to the Canadian government’s travel and safety advisory for LGBTQ+ people.

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That advisory warns its residents: “While you are travelling outside Canada, you are subject to, and must follow, the local laws of your destination country, even if these laws infringe on your human rights.

“Not all countries have the same values and legal system that we have in Canada. 

“As a result, it is important for you to be informed about the legal framework and social customs governing sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in your destination country.”

In a comment to CBC News, a spokesperson from the GAC explained that this update was linked to US laws that targeted members of the transgender community.

“Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the U.S. have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender-affirming care and from participation in sporting events,” read the comment.

“The information is provided to enable travellers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations. Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada.”

Although no state in the US has outright criminalised homosexuality, a growing number of states have put severe restrictions on access to gender-affirming care, drag artist performances, and gender and sexual orientation education in schools.

Commenting on the travel advisory update, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland explained at a press conference: “As someone who has had the real privilege of serving as Canada’s foreign minister, I know that our travel advisories are done very professionally.

“We have professionals in the government whose job is to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians. That’s their job and it’s the right thing to do.”

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