Ontario Party Pushes Law Banning Protests Near Drag Shows, With Fines Up to $25K

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2016/07/03: Chief of Police Mark Saunders arrives to partake in
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Legislation has been introduced in Ontario, Canada that would seek to enact “community safe zones” that would prohibit protests within 100 metres of a drag show or other 2SLGBTQI+ events with fines of up to $25,000.

The official opposition party in the Ontario Assembly, the Nouveau Parti démocratique de l’Ontario (NDP), introduced a private members bill that would empower the attorney general to temporarily designate specific areas as “safe zones” for 2SLGBTQI+ events such as drag shows.

The restrictions would penalise any anti-LGBTQ harassment, hate speech, or intimidation within 100 metres of a show, with fines up to $25,000.

NDP Assembly Member Kristyn Wong-Tam, a biologically female Chinese national from Hong Kong who uses “they/them” pronouns, introduced the bill, arguing that it is necessary for the government to impose public speech restrictions in order to protect gay and transgender people from the supposedly “deadly serious” threat they face from protests.

“The rise of hate and violence facing the 2SLGBTQI-plus communities, including the drag artists, happening across Ontario and right (across) the nation has been alarming,” Wong-Tam said per Canadian public broadcaster CBC.

“Drag artists, their audiences, the businesses and the facilities that host those drag performances have been put at risk,” the NDP leader continued, adding: “Unless we put forward a strategy to protect them, Ontario’s social, economic and cultural richness is under attack. We have to protect that.”

The previous Liberal government enacted protest-free zones surrounding abortion sites, however, NDP Leader Marit Stiles demanded that Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government enact similar measures to grant protections for LGBTQ people.

Stiles said: “The sad truth is that this government has done nothing to recognize the growing violence against the queer community and even less to help stop it… New Democrats have been calling on Ford to act for months, but the premier hasn’t lifted a finger.”

However, the leader of the right-leaning Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in the Assembly, Paul Calandra — who is in the same party as Premier Ford — said that the Ontario legislature will give the bill consideration.

“I think members on all sides of the house understand how important it is that everybody feel safe in the province of Ontario and that we honour everybody’s rights to live and prosper in Ontario, regardless of who you are, who you love and what god you worship,” Calandra said.

Under the leadership of Prime Minsiter Trudeau, Canada has shot to the forefront of criminalising opposition to transgender ideology.

In February, a 16-year-old student at a Catholic high school in Renfrew, Ontario was arrested for espousing his religious belief that there are only two genders and that people are not able to change from one gender to the other, which he expressed during a classroom discussion about biological males using female toilets. For this, and for allegedly “dead naming” a fellow student, he was suspended from school and was arrested when he tried to attend his classes.

In 2021, a father in British Colombia was arrested for “misgendering” his own 14-year-old daughter, who claimed to be transgender, identifying as a male. A court had ordered that the father refrains from using the word “daughter” and “she/her” pronouns, and was later arrested when he refused to comply.

Ontario is not the only local government in Canada seeking to prohibit protests surrounding drag shows, which like other countries across the West, have become a hot-button political issue as they are increasingly held in front of young children. In March, the city council of Calgary passed a measure to prevent protests from occurring within 100 metres of the entrance of such an event.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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