Toronto

Community members gather in Gay Village in response to anti-LGBTQ demonstration

Dozens of people gathered in Toronto's Gay Village on Monday evening in hopes of demonstrating that homophobic and transphobic speech is not welcome in the community.

Two people with loudspeakers shouted offensive messages at Church and Wellesley last week

Dozens of community members briefly stopped traffic at the intersection of Church and Wellesley streets on Monday evening to demonstrate against a recent incident where two people shouted offensive messages about queer and trans people.

Dozens of people gathered in Toronto's Gay Village on Monday evening to make it clear that homophobic and transphobic speech is not welcome in their community.

The event was a response to an anti-LGBTQ demonstration that turned violent at the intersection of Church and Wellesley streets last week. 

Local Coun. Krystin Wong-Tam says that on April 30, two people set up sound systems and began shouting offensive messages.

"An altercation took place while community members were trying to stop him from saying hurtful things," she said.

Coun. Krystin Wong-Tam, holding a megaphone, organized Monday night's event.

A social media post from The 519, a community centre in the area, said the pair were preaching "about the sins of queer and trans people."

The conflict that ensued drew a large crowd and prompted multiple calls to 911. One of the two people who were shouting was injured.   

No charges have been laid in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, police have stepped up patrols in the area, according to Toronto police spokesperson Const. David Hopkinson.

'There is love and strength in numbers'

Wong-Tam organized Monday's gathering after hearing from multiple constituents that a greater response to the incident was needed. She said the community felt the need to come back and reclaim the same intersection where the pair of demonstrators had set up. 

"We're going to step onto the street, we're going to disrupt the traffic briefly, and we're going to take up space and show the community that there is love and strength in numbers," she said.

"This is a village that accepts everyone," Wong-Tam added.

Anna Janes came from her home in Etobicoke to join the gathering.

"I was thinking about community and also where your space actually extends beyond your home, and it just seemed so offensive to me," Janes told CBC Toronto.

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