Canada warns LGBTQ travelers about traveling to the US

The Government of Canada's Foreign Affairs agency, which issued the travel warning, is based in The John G. Diefenbaker Building in Ottawa.
The Government of Canada’s Foreign Affairs agency, which issued the travel warning, is based in The John G. Diefenbaker Building in Ottawa.
Wikimedia Commons/JustSomePics

The state-by-state pattern of laws targeting LGBTQ individuals — especially transgender people — in the United States has prompted Canada to issue a travel warning to its citizens who are traveling to America. 

“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” the Government of Canada’s website states. “Check relevant state and local laws.”

The warning is listed on the Global Affairs agency’s web page entitled “United States travel advice,” which includes a range of different notes of caution pertaining to issues such as wildfires, gun violence, and infections.

While the list did not call out specific states, more than 75 such bills have been signed into law this year alone, which represents twice as many as last year. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced — a staggering number. Many of the laws have targeted trans rights in healthcare, sports, and even bathrooms, while others have targeted drag or classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The government also has a page with general advice for LGBTQ Canadians reminding them to watch for laws targeting people on the basis of 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,” the page states. “As a result, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada. Research and prepare for your trip in advance to help your travels go smoothly.”

In a written statement, Egale Canada — a prominent LGBTQ rights group in the country — praised the government for the advisory and described the anti-LGBTQ legislation in the US as “draconian.” 

Still, the group urged Canadians to reflect on their own laws “as we see similar legislation and policy changes happening in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick with other provinces following suit…” 

According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian government’s agency responsible for producing statistics, the most popular state for Canadians to visit is Florida — a hotbed of anti-LGBTQ laws. Others, including HRC, have issued similar travel warnings for Florida in light of the state’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community.