The Foreign Office has released an advisory to travellers about controversial anti-LGBT laws in Mississippi and North Carolina ahead of visits to the US. The travel advisory update to the LGBT community was released on the agency's website on 19 April.
"The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi," the advisory warns. "Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community."
The two southern states have come under fire for passing anti-LGBT laws in the last couple of months. Earlier in April, Mississippi passed legislation that allows businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples due to religious objections. In March North Carolina passed HB 2, which limits LGBT protections and forces transgender people to use toilets corresponding the the gender on their birth certificate, The Washington Post reported.
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, released a statement following the Foreign Office's travel warning. "It is both frightening and embarrassing that one of our nation's staunchest allies has warned its citizens of the risks of travelling to North Carolina and Mississippi because of anti-LGBT laws passed by their elected officials."
Cobb continued: "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."
The controversial law in North Carolina has already cost its capital, Raleigh $3m (£2.09m) in tourism losses. According to CBS News, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau told reporters that economic losses from HB 2 have quadrupled in the last week.
The bureau said the losses were due to cancellations or scaling back of plans, including the $1.7m cancellation from the Community Transportation Association of America. The Washington DC association was scheduled to bring 1,000 people to the city in June 2018. Instead, the group will hold its event in Baltimore, Maryland.
A number of musicians have also cancelled concerts in the state. Pearl Jam announced on 18 April it was cancelling its concert over the law, which it called "a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens." Other musicians that have cancelled include Ringo Starr, Bruce Sprinsteen and Cyndi Lauper.