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Canada warns LGBTQ residents of the risks of traveling to the US due to some state laws

The Canadian government is warning its LGBTQ citizens of risks they could face when traveling to the US, citing new laws in several states.

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” reads the updated advisory posted on Tuesday.

“2SLGBTQI+” is the acronym used by the Canadian government, with the “2S” referring to Two-Spirit, according to the government’s glossary of terminology.

Neither the statement nor the travel advisory single out specific states or laws.

The updated travel advice comes after US-based advocacy group Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ people in June.

“LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency. The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived – they are real, tangible and dangerous,” the group’s president, Kelley Robinson, said. “In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk.”

The updated Canadian advisory also links to broader advice on how LGBTQ travelers could be targeted when traveling to foreign countries. It tells travelers to beware of laws that criminalize same-sex activities and relationships, or target people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Foreign laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) can be very different from those in Canada. As a result, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada,” the advice reads.

“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 every single group of Canadians,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday, defending the decision to update the advisory.

“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,” she added.

Freeland did not comment on whether US President Joe Biden knew of the advisory beforehand.

The US is committed to “promoting tolerance, inclusion, justice and dignity while helping to advance the equality and human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “We all must continue to do this work with our like-minded partners not only in the United States, not only in Canada, but throughout the world,” the statement continued.

Last week, the embassy posted a declaration of support for Ottawa’s Capital Pride Festival.

The release reads in part, “Get Proud, La Fierté Haut et Fort” – this year’s Capital Pride theme – is exactly what we do! We celebrate even more loudly and proudly when we do so together.”

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