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UK issues travel warning for Southern US states

The U.K. government has updated foreign travel advice, warning British citizens about risks visiting America's Southern states.

Specifically the new advice draws attention to potential difficulties for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

"The U.S. is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country," the U.K. Foreign Office website says.

"LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi," it said.

North Carolina and Mississippi have introduced laws that negatively affect people in the LGBT community.

The North Carolina "bathroom" law is a statewide policy banning individuals from using public bathrooms that don't correspond to their sex as stated on their birth certificate.

Celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Pearl Jam have canceled concerts there in protest.

And tech giant PayPal has canceled a large-scale investment plan after the legislation was rubber stamped.

In Mississippi a "religious liberties" law will take effect in July.

That legislation again blocks cities from allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms for the sex they identify as.

It also aims to protect dozens of forms of businesses and services from being prosecuted if they refuse to serve LGBT people.

A similar transgender "bathroom bill" in the Tennessee state failed Monday after it was withdrawn by its sponsor.


Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, said that the move by the U.K. government on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Britain was "embarrassing" to the United States.

In statement on his website, Cobb highlighted the reputation and economic damage of the laws.

"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 Huffington Post reports 22 states have more than 100 bills pending that could affect LGBT people.