Vancouver mayor seeking innovative legal solutions to stop anti-gay preachers
One idea is to create an area 'protected by something like a peace bond,' Kennedy Stewart says
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he is looking into "innovative" legal solutions to stop anti-gay preachers from spreading hateful messages in the city.
One idea, he said, is to create what he called a "bubble zone" to prevent them or anyone else from spreading hate.
"Which is kind of like a protected area that's protected by something like a peace bond," Stewart explained.
"It's come to my attention that these preachers now are not just in the West End and on beaches, they're also at Joyce SkyTrain station, at Commercial Drive.
"So, I'm widening my look at how perhaps we can protect the entire city against this type of hatred."
The preachers have become a concern in recent months for many in the West End, a historic enclave for the gay community in Vancouver.
An altercation last week involving the preachers resulted in a broken leg for 33-year-old sports broadcaster Justin Morissette, who confronted them to get them to stop.
That led to police recommending charges of aggravated assault and mischief against two preachers.
One man, Dorre Love, said in a YouTube video that he was one of the preachers involved in the altercation but claimed he was the victim, not Morissette, calling the removal of his microphone from his hand an assault.
A lawyer in the West End has suggested using noise bylaws to crack down on the preachers and the powered amplifiers they use when proselytizing, but Stewart feels that approach will not go far enough.
"I think we need something stronger," Stewart said. "They just kind of laugh [noise fines] off and then come back and keep doing it."
The anti-bigotry and anti-white supremacy group Coalition Against Bigotry-Pacific said in a statement Tuesday that police need to do more to stop anti-gay preachers after a protested West End appearance on Monday by another anti-gay preacher, Toronto-based David Lynn.
"While there may be a lack of clarity between what is free and hate speech, there are provisions in the law for protecting the public against propagating intolerance, inciting anger and disturbing the peace," the group said in a statement.