Watch CBS News

"Hateful" laws make travel to Florida "dangerous," advocacy groups warn

DeSantis & Disney clash over authority
DeSantis and Disney clash over Florida theme park authority 03:42

Two advocacy groups are warning that travelers might be at risk if they visit the state of Florida, citing a flurry of recent legislation that's hostile toward LGBTQ people as well as other communities. 

Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group, this week warned that "Florida may not be a safe place to move or visit" over the state's anti-LGBTQ laws, restrictions on access to reproductive health care, its repeal of gun safety laws and racial prejudice.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition also issued a blunt advisory to those considering visiting Florida. 

"Reconsider travel to Florida due to unconstitutional laws which abuse civil liberties," the group said in a travel advisory. Travel to Florida "poses a heightened risk of harassment, possible detainment, and potential family separation based on racial profiling," the advisory read. 

Florida governor signs bill putting Disney district under state control 00:28

"Unprecedented" advisory

Equality Florida for its part acknowledged the "unprecedented" nature of its decision to issue a travel advisory over what it called assaults on medical and academic freedoms, as well as the "censorship and erasure" of the LGBTQ community and attacks on immigrants. 

"As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida's reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms," Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith said in a statement this week. 

The NAACP's Florida chapters on March 24 voted unanimously in favor of issuing a similar travel advisory for the state in response to DeSantis administration's decision to block a high school Advanced Placement course on African American studies. A formal advisory warning, however, has not been released.

Equality Florida's warnings come in response to legislation including a classroom law dubbed "Don't Say Gay" that restricts teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity, bans on care for transgender minors and the approval of a bill that lets people carry concealed guns without permits. Gov. Ron DeSantis in February also announced legislation that would crack down on immigration. 

Equality Florida highlighted some of the negative effects such legislation has already had. Florida parents have considered relocating, prospective students have crossed local colleges and universities off their lists, and business groups have canceled events and conferences.

"Florida has recently adopted a slate of hateful laws, and is fast-tracking additional measures that directly target the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and basic freedoms broadly," Equality Florida's statement continued.

In an email to CBS MoneyWatch, DeSantis' office called the warnings "political stunts."

Travel with "extreme caution"

The Florida Immigrant Coalition's advisory advised that travel to all parts of Florida "should be done with extreme caution," particularly for people of color and individuals with accents or who are traveling from abroad. 

Immigrant coalition urges people to "reconsider travel to Florida," because the group says it could be risky.  Florida Immigrant Coalition

Every county in Florida poses heightened risks, including family separation and possible detainment, the advisory warned, blaming "unconstitutional legislation supported by Governor Ron DeSantis and introduced by Legislative Leadership."

The group even urged members of such groups visiting Florida to consult with an attorney prior to travel "to assess the level of danger." 

Finally, the group urged individuals and families traveling to Florida to "make a clear safety plan." That includes memorizing a civil liberties attorney's phone number, creating a plan for child custody in the event that families are separated.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.