Calgary Continues Crackdown on Protesters Concerned About Child Sexualization
No criticism of the sacred queer caste allowed
Back in February, I wrote about Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek’s desire to use city bylaws against drag protesters.
Not only did Gondek weaponize an existing “street harassment” bylaw for these ends, but Calgary city council also voted this week to adopt a new bylaw further limiting such protests.
The Safe & Inclusive Access bylaw was approved on March 14 and went into effect right away. It prohibits “specified protests” which object to “an idea or action related to human rights” within 100 meters of entrances to city-operated libraries and recreational facilities.
Breaching the bylaw could result in fines of up to $10,000 and even up to a year in prison.
Council also voted to add the term “intimidation” to the existing street harassment bylaw.
Mayor Gondek insists that she is not banning protests.
“It is simply removed from the entrance so people can have safe experiences inside those buildings,” she says.
Yes, it is simply removed the length of an entire (Canadian) football field.
Want to draw attention to something going on at a city facility? Too bad, you’re two-thirds of a block away and it looks like you’re protesting the Tim Hortons.
The speed at which the bylaw was implemented is also unprecedented, and it alarmed one city councilor enough to vote no.
“I should be able to get my questions answered before I’m passing a first-of-its-kind-in-Canada law,” said Jennifer Wyness, “I’m not satisfied.”
No one should be satisfied, but general manager of community services Katie Black certainly is.
Black told the Calgary Herald that the city needed to “act swiftly” and that “our assessment as administration was that these issues were far too urgent for us to wait.”
Just what was so urgent? Apparently, the Calgary LGBTQ+ community is in serious trouble. Black claims that there have been “at least 21 protests targeting LGBTQ+ events so far this year.”
What kind of events, Katie? Are people protesting gay clubs? Are they against gay or transgender gatherings more broadly?
Where were these hateful protesters at the last Calgary Pride Parade, which saw a record attendance of 100,000, massive corporate and government involvement, and no peep from protesters to speak of?
I’ll answer this, as no mainstream Canadian outlet is willing to ask the question or even venture to propose a possible answer: people are protesting drag queens reading to children.
People are protesting that drag queens, known for dressing up as hyper-sexualized caricatures of women and putting on bawdy performances in gay nightclubs, are for some reason really adamant about reading to children.
Agree with these protests or not, they are not “anti-LGBTQ+” in nature. However, the media and the city keep insisting that these events represent everyone under the acronym, throwing us under the bus and forcibly connecting us to something many of us do not support.
I can’t imagine how thrilled actual homophobes are at this forced teaming. “Look, see! The gays really are after the children!”
Even worse, we are being forced-teamed with men who expose themselves in women’s changing rooms.
The bylaw was not only spurred by Drag Queen Story Hour protests but also by demonstrations outside of a city-owned pool after concerned parents raised the alarm about a man walking around in the changing room with his penis hanging out in front of young girls.
Pool staff, of course, told parents that the man was protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
In early March, media outlets were eager to report that Calgary police had refuted the incident and determined the allegations to be unfounded. But the actual statement released by police does not make this clear at all.
We acknowledge the impact that the recent demonstrations have had on people and communities across Calgary, especially those within the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Recently, demonstrations have been taking place outside Canyon Meadows Pool based on allegations that there was an act of indecent exposure in a change room. CPS has thoroughly investigated the incident and has determined that these allegations are unfounded. This incident did not take place as initially reported on social media. There was no act of indecent exposure.
Note that all it would take for this incident to not be an “act of indecent exposure” is for the man in question to identify as a woman. Then he is simply a woman naked in a woman’s changing room.
Also note that the top priority of the police is to protect the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Even after the police statement was released, parents continued to insist that they were not lying.
“I’m upset and hurt by the statement of the police,” the mother who initially reported the incident told the Western Standard. “The operator went and talked to a sergeant and came back and told me it was a city issue and to phone 311. They could have come out and investigated with all the other parents there in attendance to get actual statements from other parents of what happened.”
The fact that we can not trust the police to release transparent and honest statements, nor the media to report those statements truthfully or to ask critical questions (or any questions at all), is truly concerning.
And this entire incident is partly what led to the draconian and, quite frankly, illegal bylaw Calgary now has in place.
As the Canadian Constitution Foundation points out, the bylaw is in violation of section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This bylaw is not content neutral. It only prohibits specific types of protests that the government disapproves of. The courts have been very clear that the right to freedom of expression is content neutral. The content of the expression, no matter how offensive, unpopular or disturbing cannot deprive it of its section 2(b) Charter protection.
Section 2(c) of the Charter also guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly, which includes the right to protest and demonstrate on public streets.
Even “non-binary social justice lawyer” Adrienne Smith has voiced concerns about the bylaw, telling CBC that, “the ways that [the bylaw] could be used to regulate activity that we don't agree [with] at the moment is problematic," and warning about the potential for the bylaw to be misused in the future against unrelated forms of protest.
These concerns are absolutely justified.
Contrast this whole circus in Calgary with a recent ruling from the Court of Quebec. The case itself had to do with a neighbor dispute involving the flipping of the finger, but it still hinged on the issue of free expression, and the judge took the following stance:
Offending someone is not a crime. It is an integral component of one’s freedom of expression. Citizens are to be thicker-skinned, especially when they behave in ways that are highly likely to trigger such profanity.
If men want to dress up as sexualized caricatures of women and read to children, or if men want to call themselves women and expose themselves in women’s changing rooms, then they are going to trigger other citizens who will want to voice their displeasure in the form of protests.
If Mayor Gondek and Calgary city council are going to support these events and policies, then they can grow a thicker skin. Calling it “hate” is a weak and embarrassing cop-out. Plug your ears childishly all you want: the citizens you are supposed to serve aren’t going to shut up.
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Eva, in your article the reporting parent is a mother, but in the article you have a link to from the Feb 6 Western Standard News the “concerned parent “ is being referred to as a he. What is the truth? Not attacking. Just want the truth to be explained. Am I not reading it right?