Well, thanks a lot North Carolina and Mississippi. By definition, the United States is now on the books as even more of a ravenous diplomatic animal in a cage than it was already. The British government actually issued a travel advisory for British LGBT citizens when traveling to the United States, saying as follows:
The US 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.
The named pieces of legislation are North Carolina’s “House Bill 2” and Mississippi’s “House Bill 1523.” Both are sweeping legalizations of restriction on the human rights of those in the LGBT community. And both are so serious that they warrant the serious legal notice of a foreign government.
North Carolina’s bill is an overthrow of pre-existing local level anti-discrimination legislation and the placing of all control for such legislation in the hands of the state government. And the handling of such an issue by the state government sure has not started out pretty. The first, and most discussed provision, “prevents transgender people from using bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify.” This has not sat over well with groups across the fabric of society, who have united against this sickeningly corrupt law. Businesses have pulled out of the state in droves. Other states have pulled out of the state. Musicians, from Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam, have pulled their concerts out of the state.
The Mississippi legislation is slightly different, and, in a way, it is by definition worse for human rights, although it has gotten less press time. According to The Washington Blade:
HB 1523 is considered the most sweeping law in the nation to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of [so-called] religious freedom. The law prohibits the state from taking action against religious organizations that decline employment, housing or services to same-sex couples; families who’ve adopted a foster child and wish to act in opposition to same-sex marriage; and individuals who offer wedding services and decline to facilitate a same-sex wedding.
It basically is more of a blank check for discrimination than the North Carolina law. Under this legislation, anyone can do whatever they want to anybody. And not only in the LGBT community. Looking through the recent legislative acts out of the state finds one staring aghast at this: “Mississippi not adding domestic violence as grounds for divorce.” Yes, it’s real.
Travel advisories are the kind of thing that are placed over areas like, oh, say war torn areas in the Middle East like Afghanistan. To be fair, the same is done on slightly more “developed countries” like, say Turkey, in the aftermath of huge suicide bombing campaigns. Yes, Mississippi and North Carolina are now in the same category as the other places just mentioned.
This drastic British response to these bills is not unprecedented. For one, the “spirit of the legislation,” if you will, if firmly embedded in American conservative society. Indiana passed similar legislation a couple years back to the Mississippi law, and it provoked a similar backlash. For another, the British government may, just may, have been looking at the increasing number of headlines like, “Graphic Video Shows Assault of Gay Man.”
There really is a real danger to LGBT people in America, coming ever more out into the open in the increasingly polarized political environment of America. This travel advisory can be a wake up call.