Canada issues a travel advisory to LGBTQ travelers to the U.S.

Key Largo sunset
Key Largo sunset at Calusa Bay Resort. Photo credit: Peter Frycki

The government of Canada issued a travel advisory warning to its LGBTQ citizens on Aug. 30, 2023 considering traveling to the United States. This warning came as a response to multiple states passing a variety of anti-LGBTQ laws.

“Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the U.S. have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender-affirming care and from participation in sporting events,” wrote Jérémie Bérubé, a spokesman from Canada’s Global Affairs department.

Bérubé further expressed, “Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada.”

This advisory warning comes at the heels of the Human Rights Campaign declaring a state of emergency for LGBTQ people living in America back in June of this year. “The sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ+ measures has spawned a dizzying patchwork of discriminatory state laws that have created increasingly hostile and dangerous environments for LGBTQ+ people,” as stated in HRC’s press release.

“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,” said Kelley Robinson, the president of HRC.

While no LGBTQ Canadians have made an official report documenting anti-LGBTQ discrimination, Bérubé said, this advisory warning can be seen as a precautionary measure given the state of LGBTQ rights in America.

The ACLU has documented 496 anti-LGBTQ bills proposed in various states this year. As is being noted by multiple LGBTQ organizations, including HRC, the effects of the legislation are proving to be harmful to people who are LGBTQ.

“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,” Robinson said regarding anti-LGBTQ bills.

In addition to the rise of discriminatory legislation, there has been an increase of book bans targeting LGBTQ+ creators and their stories. Even in New Jersey there have been several attempted book bans earlier this year — including Glen Ridge. There has also been a rise of bomb and death threats aimed at drag queen and drag story events, as seen in various states. New Jersey hasn’t been a stranger to this.

In Princeton last month, families with their children had to evacuate from a drag queen story event due to a bomb threat levied against the organizers.

As expressed by Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, the legislation and ongoing threats of violence against members of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. gave the impetus for Canada to issue its advisory warning,

Freeland remarked, “Every Canadian 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.”

Adam Varoqua is a gay, queer, first generation Syrian Circassian born in New Jersey. He graduated from Seton Hall University with a BA in Honors Psychology and Social & Behavioral Sciences. He previously worked for the Trevor Project and the Hudson Pride Center.