Bollocks?: Britain Warns LGBT Travelers About Visiting Mississippi and North Carolina

gay-flag

Travel is a great thing. It broadens the mind, allows one to experience new cultures, new ideas, and new ways of thinking. A bit of traveling really does us a lot of good. We don’t all need to go backpacking through the Amazon, eating only spiders and drinking our own piss to survive, but getting away every so often can be a nice way to remind us that there’s more to the world than your little corner of it.

Due to politics and arseholes, some parts of the world are a lot more inviting than others. I’d love to travel to the Middle East and immerse myself in its ancient cultures and history, but I think I’ll leave it a few years before I book myself a stay in Baghdad. In order to help travelers feel a little more secure when going abroad, Britain has a site called Foreign Travel Advice. This site is run by the government and basically tells you what you should be aware of before you visit a place. No doubt other countries have something similar, in order to help explorers avoid countries that their government may have recently fucked over.

As I hinted at earlier, you probably expect the site to have a fair few warnings if you’re thinking about going hitchhiking across the Gaza strip, or naked rambling through the Australian outback. Due to their stability, you probably wouldn’t expect some countries to be very hostile. Traveling to Italy this year? Just make sure you bring some suncream. Got trip booked to New Zealand? Remember not to walk into Mordor.

We expect that some countries may be more hostile than others. I want to stress this is not a criticism of the people in it, but rather the politics of the world and social and economic situations. I believe 99% of humans, no matter where they’re from, mainly just want to live and let live. Sure, we don’t always agree, but that doesn’t mean we actually want to physically harm the person we disagree with. Unfortunately, we know that some places are more peaceful than others. A trip to Canada would cause me a lot less anxiety than a trip to North Korea. However, it seems one country has given the Foreign Affairs Travel Advice site cause to give Brits a warning when traveling there. That’s right, the United States.

In no way do I want post to come across as a rant against America. In recent years, America has been doing a lot of good work when it comes to forward thinking and it would be entirely unfair (and stupid) to judge an entire nation by the stance of a few idiots. Trust me, if Britain did something like this, I’d be the first to ring up the Queen and give her what for (Happy Birthday, ma’am). If this is the case, then you might be wondering why I’m bothering to write this. I’m doing so because, even though this will be like a drop of piss in the ocean, I won’t pretend it’s okay.

So, on with the story. I was really genuinely surprised when I saw that the FTA had released a warning to LGBT travelers who might be thinking of taking a trip to the States this year. Like any country, America has its rough places, but given that America is one of the most Western countries on Earth, I was kind of under the impression an LGBT person wouldn’t need to worry about traveling there. Of course, most places there are fine, but it seems two states are having the fun ruined by some knuckleheads who still think it’s 1952, rather than, you know, the 21st century. America really is forward thinking, the country features citizens who’s heritage spans across the globe, the President’s a black guy, climate change is being taken seriously, and Donald Trump isn’t being taken seriously. They’ve got their shit together.

You may be aware that, last month, a law was passed in North Carolina known as HB 2 which limits the amount of protection LGBT people can expect and forces transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. Mississippi also recently passed a law which states that businesses now have the right to refuse service to LGBT people due to their religious objections. The fact these laws passed doesn’t just mean people in those states must obey the laws, it also suggests that some folk in these states are either against being considerate to LGBT folk, or are just unconcerned either way. This has prompted the FTA to warn British travelers that their lifestyle may not be as excepted in those states as elsewhere.

The site states: “The U.S. is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Before traveling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community.”

The site advises LGBT travelers to use discretion in rural areas and recommends avoiding “excessive physical shows of affection” in public. Because apparently two consenting adults showing affection can be really offensive. The site also warns that some hotels “won’t accept bookings from same sex couples – check before you go.”

I’m obviously not the only one pissed off at these new laws. Many more high profile individuals have shown their chagrin. Several musicians including Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, and Bruce Springsteen have cancelled shows in North Carolina. Paypal has even cancelled its plans to expand into Charlotte, North Carolina due to the new legislation. Even other American cities such as New York, San Francisco, and the District of Columbia have banned non-essential government travel to North Carolina.

The FTA aims to be neutral when providing travelers with information but did link those looking for more information to the Human Rights Campaign site. The Human Right Campaign posted the following message on Twitter:

The fact that so many people have reacted in outrage is a comfort, but it still grind my gears that in 2016, this shit is still being upheld by a government. Look, I get it, it’s easy for me to sit here in my ivory tower throwing judgment down like some kind of golden God. If I lived in an area of Mississippi or North Carolina which held anti-LGBT sentiments, would I risk sticking my neck out? There’s really not much this handsome British chap can do, but I urge all Americans and all citizens of Mississippi and North Carolina to try and fight this. You’re the land of the free, and freedom isn’t worth shit if it can’t be enjoyed by all.

Props to the Washington Post for sauce.

MORE:


Comments are closed.