British government issues warning to LGBT travelers about NC, Miss.

British government issues warning to LGBT travelers about NC, Miss.

(WBTV) - The British government has issued a warning to LGBT travelers about coming to North Carolina and Mississippi after two controversial laws were passed in the states.

The government is referring to North Carolina's House Bill 2 and Mississippi's House Bill 1523, also known as the Religious Accommodations Act.

"When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state's laws [...] The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country," the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel officials said Tuesday. "LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi."

House Bill 2 requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also makes clear local measures can't expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill came as a response to Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance, which broadly defined how businesses must treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The center of the controversy focused on bathrooms.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: More information on House Bill 2

The city ordinance was passed in February and repealed with the state's passage of HB2 in late March.

Mississippi's Religious Accommodations Act allows private businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community based off of their religious background and beliefs.

"This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the bill states. "The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived."

According to the UK's FCO, around 3.8 million British nationals visit the United States every year.

"Before travelling [to the US], please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community," officials warned. They also suggested that travelers find more information on the Human Rights Campaign's website.

President Barack Obama is slated to visit the United Kingdom later this week and is expected to fly in Thursday night after wrapping up a summit between the United States and the Gulf nations in Saudi Arabia.

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