The Canadian government has updated its U.S. travel advice, warning LGBTQ+ citizens that laws passed in some U.S. states may directly impact them while visiting.
The update, posted August 29 under the “Laws and culture” section of Global Affairs Canada’s United States travel advice, reads as follows: “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect [LGBTQ+] persons.”
It further advises travelers to research state and local laws in areas they plan to visit.
In recent years, Republican state lawmakers across the U.S. have been working to pass anti-LGBTQ+ bills, many of which directly target transgender Americans. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, over 80 state-level anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law in 2023 alone.
As the CBC notes, Canada’s travel advisory does not mention any specific laws and does not advise travelers to avoid specific U.S. states. However, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada pointed to state laws passed this year banning drag shows, restricting transgender people’s access to gender-affirming care, and banning trans athletes from participating in sports. U.S. critics of such laws have argued that they are a direct attack on trans and nonbinary Americans’ ability to exist in public.
“The information is provided to enable travelers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations,” the Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said. “Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada.”
At a press conference Tuesday, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former foreign affairs minister, said that the country’s 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,” Freeland said.
According to the CBD, Freeland would not say whether President Joe Biden was informed of the new travel advisory before it was issued.
“One of the principal responsibilities of the federal government is to understand how to work with our U.S. neighbor. I think our government has shown that that’s a priority for us and that we work hard at it, and that we’re able to manage that relationship regardless of the choices that the people of the United States make,” she explained. “Even as we work hard on that government-to-government relationship, 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. That’s what we’re doing now. That’s what we’re always going to do.”
Canada’s travel advice comes just months after two prominent LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the U.S. issued travel warnings for LGBTQ+ Americans visiting Florida. In May, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization – joined Equality Florida to issue a travel advisory for the state in the wake of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation signed into law by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.