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Photo by Lars Hagberg / Reuters
Photo by Lars Hagberg / Reuters

Canadian government issues travel advisory to US for Queer community
On Tuesday, government officials in Ottawa advised Queer travelers to the United States to look into the laws of the states they might visit.

The travel advisory comes in the wake of a 30-fold increase since 2017 in legislation to restrict the rights of Queer people in several US states. "Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons," the advisory says. "Check relevant state and local laws." (The acronym "2SLGBTQI+" stands for "Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex+," with "Two-Spirit" referring to North American Indigenous people who fill a third-gender ceremonial or social role in their cultures.)

According to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking to reporters from Atlantic Canada, the Canadian government employed experts "to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians."

She added, "Every Canadian government... needs to put at the center of everything we do the interest and the safety of every single Canadian and every single group of Canadians. That's what we're doing now."

Freeland did not disclose if the Canadian government had held any talks with the Biden administration. Canada's risk profile for the United States remains at green, indicating ordinary security precautions.

For its part, the US State Department said the United States was committed to "promoting tolerance, inclusion, justice, and dignity" while advancing the rights of the Queer community.

The United States is the top travel destination for Canadians. According to official data released last year, at least one million Canadians aged 15 or older are Queer, making the safety of Queer travelers from Canada an important consideration for US-Canadian relations.

Canada's travel advisory coincides with the Human Right Campaign's "national state of emergency" declaration issued back in June, which raised the alarm over the proliferation of legislation aimed at regulating and restricting the lives of Queer people.

Two arrested, may face death penalty under Ugandan anti-homosexuality law
Two men have been arrested and charged with "aggravated homosexuality," punishable by death, after a controversial new law went into effect in May.

Both men are involved in separate incidents. One was charged in July with "aggravated homosexuality" in the Jinja district in eastern Uganda for allegedly performing "a sexual act with a child aged 12 of the same sex.

According to Jacqueline Okui, spokesperson for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the second is a 20-year-old man in the district of Soroti in eastern Uganda. He was charged on August 18 after he allegedly "performed unlawful sexual intercourse with one [man] aged 41 with a disability."

The hotly criticized law defines "aggravated homosexuality" as any sexual act between two persons of the same sex that involves incest or sex with children, people with disabilities, or the elderly. The law also outlaws same-sex marriage in Uganda and punishes other same-sex acts with life imprisonment.

The lawyer for the unnamed 20-year old man, Justine Balya, told CNN that the penalties associated with the law are entirely out of proportion. "Of course the fact that the law is being enforced in this way is entirely unconstitutional, because it seeks to criminalize what is often consensual conduct between adults," she said.

Balya expects her client to undergo a lengthy period of being remanded into custody and a long delay until trial.

Global outrage has erupted since the law was signed in May. President Joe Biden has condemned it as "a tragic violation of human rights" and has directed an evaluation of aid contributions sent to Uganda. The US has also announced visa restrictions for some Ugandan officials.

In August, the World Bank announced that its International Development Fund program will cease considering new loan requests from Uganda; the bank's decision came mere days after the United Nations announced it would be closing its human rights office in Uganda.

A similar bill was passed and signed into law in 2014, but the Ugandan courts struck it down, citing procedural irregularities in its passage.