Ottawa

Pride organizers staying vigilant following altercation

Organizers of Capital Pride are keeping a close eye on security after a group of religious protesters interrupted a drag queen storytelling event on Saturday in Ottawa.

Volunteers, police asked to come keep an eye on family picnic

Ottawa police officers went to a Capital Pride picnic on Aug. 18, 2019 after getting a special request that morning, which followed a vulgar interruption at another family event the day before. (CBC)

Organizers of Capital Pride are keeping a close eye on security after a group of protesters interrupted a drag queen storytelling event on Saturday in west Ottawa.

The group took the opportunity during a question and answer period to call the event "child abuse" and try to insult the hosts.

Volunteers and police were on hand at a picnic to celebrate LGBTQ families in Hintonburg Park on Sunday to ensure demonstrators were kept out.

"The incidents [Saturday] are deeply concerning and troubling," said festival director Toby Whitfield. 

"Today we've got lots of extra folks that have shown up to show their support, to be in solidarity with the community … [and] help keep the space safe."

In a statement issued Sunday, Capital Pride said it's "reviewing its safety and security plans for its events this week and will continue to work with its partners at the City of Ottawa, and in the community, to monitor and respond to incidents."

Ottawa police said officers were sent to the picnic after receiving a special request on Sunday morning.

They said they will make themselves available to attend events, as necessary, throughout the week to ensure people feel safe.

Pride more important than ever

Picnic organizer André Fontaine said the incident Saturday highlights the importance Pride festivals play in combating homophobia and celebrating the LGBTQ community.

Family Picnic organizer André Fontaine says Saturday's incident highlights the importance Pride festivals play in combating homophobia and uplifting the LGBTQ community. (CBC)

"It's really unfortunate that we're in 2019 and this discrimination still exists. I'm really, really upset that that happened, especially in front of children," he said.

"Every family should be celebrated. Every child, every person should be celebrated with all their diversity regardless of faith, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."

Lucy Chapman said as a parent who's been out since the early 1980s, she was shocked and horrified to find out what happened Saturday.

Lucy Chapman said what happened Saturday crossed a line. (CBC)

"I have no problem with people voicing their opinion. Go for it," she said. 

"But when it becomes aggressive and targeting people who might feel vulnerable, I'm not OK with that."

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