In a notable move, Canada has revised its international travel advisories to alert members of the LGBTQ+ community about potential discrimination they might encounter when traveling to specific locations within the United States. The decision comes in response to a series of legislative actions in the U.S. that have impacted the LGBTQ+ community. This advisory update reflects concerns related to laws enacted in at least 18 U.S. states, which curtail various rights and aspects relevant to LGBTQ+ individuals, including gender-affirming medical care for minors and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in school curricula.
Growing concerns in the U.S.: Adding to the impetus for this advisory update, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a caution in May, signaling an escalation in threats of violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Considering these factors, Global Affairs Canada amended its U.S. travel advice to provide specific guidance for LGBTQ+ travelers. This alteration was implemented because “some states have enacted laws and policies” that could potentially affect the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Nuanced approach to advisory: Unlike other travel warnings directed at specific countries, such as Tanzania or Egypt, Canada’s advisory for the U.S. does not explicitly specify the states or their corresponding laws that could pose concerns. Instead, the advisory urges travelers to investigate the local laws of their destination before embarking on their journey.
Cautious consideration and resources: Global Affairs Canada extends general advice to LGBTQ+ travelers to foster careful consideration. They encourage travelers to assess whether they are comfortable visiting destinations where the legal and social landscape diverges from the norms experienced in Canada. The government further offers resources to enable individuals to access relevant information about laws and regulations affecting the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.
U.S.-based advocacy responses: In May, a consortium of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, issued their independent travel advisories for Florida. This action directly responded to Governor Ron DeSantis signing into law various restrictions on LGBTQ+ issues, such as drag shows, bathroom usage, and using preferred pronouns in educational settings.
Bilateral relations and safety priority: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to the advisory change, noting that these travel advisories are constructed based on insights from professionals tasked with identifying potential hazards. While she did not confirm discussions with U.S. President Biden, she underscored the paramount importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship. She emphasized Canada’s dedication to its citizens’ and communities’ well-being and security.
Commitment to equality: U.S. Ambassador David Cohen, in a written statement, emphasized his nation’s commitment to equality and equal treatment. He expressed that the United States is dedicated to fostering an environment of tolerance, inclusion, justice, and dignity while working with like-minded partners globally to advance LGBTQI+ rights and recognition.