The UK Government is warning gay people about travelling to parts of the US after two states introduced anti-gay laws.
The Foreign Office ;issued the new advice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the wake of new legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi.
Previously, the Foreign Office had only issued general advice for LGBT people to "take care abroad", but lacked specific information about the US.
It follows the introduction last month of new legislation passed in North Carlina that allows businesses to “turn away” LGBT people on religious grounds.
The state's bathroom law, which has been described as "anti-trans", says people must use the public toilet designated for the biological sex they were born with, rather than the gender they identify with. Virginia and Tenneesee have recently overturned a similar law.
In Mississippi, critics have branded a bill passed three weeks ago that allows people to deny services to gay couples on religious grounds the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the US.
Supporters have said it will protect religious freedom, but others have condemned it as a free pass to discrimination. It is scheduled to become law on 1 July.
The new Foreign Office advice states: “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws. You must carry a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain with you at all times.
“LGBT travellers may be affected by legislations passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.”
“Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community.
"You can find more detail on LGBT issues in the US on the wesbite of the Human Rights Campaign."
The bill in North Carolina, known as House Bill 1523, also protects people who do not recognise the gender identity of transgender people.
Dr Felicity Daly, director of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust said: “It is heartening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work, it’s a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK, but most people who identify as LGBT in the UK will already be aware of the nature of certain states.”
Matt Horwood of Stonewall charity said: “What’s happened in Mississippi and North Carolina proves that equality is never secure.
"It’s positive to see the UK government recognise this need and update its travel advice pages accordingly."
The Foreign Office's advice comes on the eve of US president Barack Obama’s visit to the UK.
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