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Britain issues warning for LGBT travelers visiting North Carolina and Mississippi

People protest on March 24 outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh over a new law that prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules. (Emery P. Dalesio/AP)

The British Foreign Office has released an advisory warning travelers to be aware of controversial new laws in North Carolina and Mississippi before visiting the United States.

The travel advisory update — directed to members of the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community — was posted on the Foreign Office's website Tuesday.

“The U.S. is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country,” the advisory says. “LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Before traveling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community.”

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In North Carolina, HB 2 — the controversial law passed last month — limits LGBT protections and forces transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding only with the gender on their birth certificate. Mississippi's law, passed earlier this month, allows businesses to refuse services to gay couples based on religious objections.

The new legislation has led to boycotts and backlash in the business community. Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Pearl Jam, among others, have canceled appearances in North Carolina as a show of opposition to the new law, and PayPal said it is abandoning plans to expand into Charlotte in response to the legislation.

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Some cities and states — including San Francisco, the District of Columbia and the state of New York — have also banned non-essential government travel to North Carolina.

North Carolina's LGBTQ community protests the state's new anti-transgender bathroom law. (Video: Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

The British government advisory doesn't include a political message, but it does refer prospective travelers looking for more information about LGBT issues in the United States to the website of the Human Rights Campaign, a group that has voiced strong opposition to North Carolina's new legislation.

Among the advice for LGBT Brits traveling abroad: "Exercise discretion" in rural areas and avoid "excessive physical shows of affection" in public.

"Some hotels," the government also warns, "especially in rural areas, won’t accept bookings from same sex couples – check before you go."

The Foreign Office includes a link to a world map produced by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association that highlights countries with legislation targeting LGBT people.

Among the countries highlighted in red on the map are Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Nicaragua, as well as much of northern Africa and the Middle East.

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