Canada warns LGBTQ travelers of U.S. risks, citing potential dangers

People hold pride flags during the Gay Pride parade in Toronto on July 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch Get license rights

OTTAWA, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Canada is advising LGBTQ travelers planning trips to the United States to check how they may be affected by laws recently passed in some states, Ottawa said on Tuesday, citing the risk of potential dangers.

Anti-LGBTQ protests in the U.S. last year increased 30 times compared to 2017 and legal moves to restrict LGBTQ rights are on the rise.

Canada’s travel advisory for the United States now includes a warning for those who identify as bi-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or intersex — or 2SLGBTQI+ for short.

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ individuals,” the advisory states. “Check applicable state and local laws.”

The advisory did not specify which states it was referring to.

The U.S. State Department said the U.S. is committed to “promoting tolerance, inclusion, justice, and dignity” while advancing the rights of the LGBTQ community and stands ready to work with like-minded partners around the world.

When asked why the advisory was updated, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Canadian government had commissioned experts to “look carefully around the world and monitor whether there are specific risks to specific groups of Canadians.”

Speaking to reporters in Atlantic Canada, he added: “Every Canadian government … must act with the welfare and safety of every Canadian and every group of Canadians in mind. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

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He declined to say whether any negotiations were held with the Biden administration before making the change. The overall risk profile for the United States is green, indicating the need for a modest safety precaution.

The U.S. is the top travel destination for Canadians, with residents returning from about 2.8 million trips south of the border in June. According to official data released last year, about 1 million people, or 4% of the Canadian population aged 15 and over, are lesbian, gay, bisexual or have another sexual orientation.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, has declared a state of national emergency, citing a proliferation of legislation in state capitals aimed at regulating the lives of queer people.

Ismail Shakil reporting in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Otis and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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