Florida group issues travel advisory warning to LGBTQ+ tourists regarding ‘risks’ in state

Equality Florida warns LGBTQ+ people of the risk posed to their ‘health, safety, and freedom’ in the state

Abe Asher
Thursday 13 April 2023 19:07 BST
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Advocacy groups in Florida are warning LGBTQ+ people to stay away from the state following the passage a number of bills targeting the community during the current legislative session.

“Today, Equality Florida took the extraordinary step of issuing a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state,” the organisation wrote in a press release.

“The move comes in response to a wave of safety inquiries Equality Florida has received following the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum,” the Equality Florida release continued.

In addition to Equality Florida, the Florida Immigrant Coalition also issued a warning to immigrants and people of colour that travel in the state should be undertaken with “extreme caution.”

According to Equality Florida, hate crimes perpetrated against LGBTQ+ individuals account for 22 percent of all hate crimes in the state — making hate crimes perpetrated against people on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation the second most common type of hate crime behind crimes perpetrated on the basis of race.

The warning to LGBTQ+ people about deteriorating human rights conditions in Florida comes as the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, reportedly mulls a bid for president. If he runs, Mr DeSantis would be challenging former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Equality Florida, in its release, wrote that Mr DeSantis “has made the extremist policies the centerpiece of his presidential campaign strategy, has weaponized state agencies to silence critics and impose sanctions on large and small companies that dissent with his culture war agenda or disagree with his attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

A spokesperson for the governor, Bryan Griffin, told the Tallahassee Democrat that the travel advisory amounted to a “political stunt.”

“We aren’t going to waste time worrying about political stunts but will continue doing what is right for Floridians,” he wrote in a statement to the newspaper.

Florida was long considered one of the country’s most competitive swingstates, split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. In recent years, however, Republicans have become politically dominant in the state and are using their power to push a raft of right-wing legislation.

So far this year, Florida legislators have filed 18 pieces of legislation targeting transgender residents including limiting drag performances, banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors, and requiring people to use the public restrooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth.

Florida has also cracked down on speech about gender, sexuality, and race in public K-12 schools and taken steps to limited academic freedom at colleges and universities in the state. Another piece of legislation currently under consideration in the legislature that would increase penalties for human trafficking is written in such a broad manner that immigrants rights group say it could be used to anyone transporting a migrant.

“If you decide on travel to Florida, make a clear safety plan,” a new website promoting the travel advisory reads.

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