Foreign Office warns British LGBT tourists about travelling to the US
New government advice comes after North Carolina and Mississippi enact discriminatory laws
The British government has warned lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of the risks of travelling to two US states in the wake of new legislation.
North Carolina recently passed a law that removes protections for LGBT people and bans trans people from using public toilets that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. Businesses and celebrities, including Bruce Springsteen and PayPal, are boycotting the state as a result.
Legislation passed in Mississippi, meanwhile, effectively allows individuals and organisations to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBT citizens.
As a result, new advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states: "The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. Laws vary from state to state."
It goes on to warn: "LGBT travellers may be affected by legislations passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi."
Ty Cobb, from America's Human Rights Campaign, says it is "both frightening and embarrassing that one of our nation's staunchest allies has warned its citizens of the risks" of travelling to the states.
"It is now more clear than ever that these terrible measures are not only harming individuals and taking an economic toll on the states, but are also causing serious damage to our nation's reputation, and the perceived safety of LGBT people who travel here," he added.
Dr Felicity Daly, from the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust, told The Independent that it "is heartening the FCO is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work – it's a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK".
The updated travel warning was published on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to the UK. The White House has previously described the bill as "mean-spirited" and is considering whether to withdraw billions of dollars in federal aid in response.
"[It] represents a test for the Obama administration, which has declared that the fight for gay and transgender rights is a continuation of the civil rights era," says the New York Times. "The North Carolina dispute forces the administration to decide how aggressively to fight on that principle."