A series of protests against Drag Queen story hours in recent weeks has made the city of Calgary act to try and stop them.
Described as protests of hate by Mayor Jyoti Gondek, the city’is asking that council immediately approve the new Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw.
You are reading: Proposed ‘safe and inclusive’ bylaw to protect LGBTQ2+ community to be debated Tuesday
It would ensure that any event taking place inside a city facility such as public libraries, or city-owned or affiliated recreation centres, like the YMCA, a 100-metre buffer zone will be in place to stop any protests.
Any person who contravenes the bylaw is guilty of an offence pursuant to this proposed bylaw.
If convicted, they could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or one year in prison.
The city also wants to update its street harassment bylaw to include the word ‘intimidation.’
Any specified protest on public property within 100 metres of an entrance to a recreation facility or library could see a minimum $500 penalty. If protests occur inside one of those facilities, a $1,000 fine could be issued.
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If the bylaw is approved, one who impedes or attempts to impede someone from entering a facility could face a $500 fine.
Ward 7 councillor Terry Wong believes council will have to address several questions when it debates Tuesday.
“Is it an infringement on a person’s rights? We can have all the constitutional debates, we can have all the social moral debates whether that’s right or wrong,” he said.
Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong
“But the other question I think we need to take a look at is, who we are leaving out and the unintended consequences of doing what we’re doing.”
Wong adds that he would like to see city hall covered under the bylaw, with frequent protests and events held there and possibly expand the buffer zone.
“If we have 500 people, 100 meters is nothing,” said Wong.
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“If it’s a gathering like this, 100 meters is more than sufficient. I think it’s relative to the threat that’s in front of us.”
STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION
Anna Murphy, vice-chair for the city’s gender, equity, diversity and inclusion sub committee and a strong LGBTQ2+ advocate, says the proposed bylaw is a step in the right direction to keeping members of the community safe.
“We are exhausted and terrified, our existence being under constant threat and attack by those who seek to eradicate us simply because of who we are, “she said.
“I think that this will be a puzzle piece. I think there’s a bigger puzzle that we have to put together.”
Murphy says she’s been left disappointed by recent protests.
“It’s heartbreaking because I know and we know that these demonstrations of hate do not reflect the true spirit and energy that we know Calgary to have,” said Murphy.
Ward 11 councillor Kourtney Penner says she will support the bylaw at Tuesday’s vote.
“It is providing that zone where people can enter and exit a facility free of intimidation and harassment, be that verbal or non-verbal,” said Penner.