Canada travel advisory warns LGBTQ people of U.S. state laws

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Canada has updated its travel advisory for the United States to warn LGBTQ travelers that they are at risk of being affected by state and local laws, amid a recent surge in state-level legislation targeting the community.

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” Global Affairs Canada, a government department that oversees the country’s international relations, said in the advisory posted Tuesday. It used the abbreviation “2S” for “two-spirit,” a word used in Canada to describe a spectrum of genders among Indigenous people.

The page also links to broader advice on how LGBTQ people are subject to local laws at their travel destinations, “even if these laws infringe on your human rights.”

Although the advisory did not list any particular state laws or policies, a department spokesperson pointed to legislation passed this year in certain U.S. states “banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care,” among other restrictions, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former foreign minister, told reporters Tuesday that the travel advice was updated because Ottawa prioritizes “the interests and the safety of every single Canadian.”

“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,” she said, adding that it was “the right thing to do.”

Historic surge in bills targeting transgender rights pass at record speed

In May, U.S.-based human rights groups issued a travel advisory for Florida, noting that the state had passed bills that included limiting the discussion of gender and sexual orientation in classrooms and banning transgender people from using many bathrooms and changing areas.

State legislators across the United States have introduced nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union. “While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people,” the ACLU said on its website.

A Washington Post analysis in April found that as of four months into this year’s state legislative sessions, more bills targeting LGBTQ rights — with an emphasis on transgender rights — had become law than at any other time in U.S. history.

Logan S. Casey, who serves as a senior researcher at the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks the legislation, said at the time that the rise in such laws was “part of a very clear and identifiable national effort in state legislatures that is and has been going on for years — and it’s really culminating this year.”

This month, North Carolina barred transgender athletes from competing on women’s or girls’ sports teams and restricted gender-affirming care for minors, while a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender youths passed into law in Louisiana.

In Texas, a law that would prevent young people from medically transitioning genders and prohibit the use of Medicaid to pay for such treatments is set to take effect this week.

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