Crowds rally for unity amid Christian group's march through Toronto's gay village
Christian group describes itself as a free-speech advocate, 519 says group is anti-gay
Umbrella-toting crowds rallied for unity in rainy Toronto on Saturday in response to an anti-LGBTQ group's march through the city's gay village.
The 519, an LGBTQ charity in Toronto, organized what it described as an "Army of Lovers" to combat the anti-queer protesters, who call themselves Christian free-speech advocates.
"Love, not hate, makes our city great!" rainbow-hued ralliers chanted, standing across the street from the Christian group's more subdued protesters.
The Christian group describes itself as a free-speech advocate, arguing "traditionalists" have to walk on eggshells in today's society.
Group says it disagrees with community's 'lifestyle choices'
The 519 said the Christian group is anti-gay, while the group argues that it merely disagrees with "many of the lifestyle choices of the LGBT community."
Giant rainbow flag in Barbara Hall Park. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/uniteagainsthate?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#uniteagainsthate</a> #519 <a href="https://t.co/PX4T4dSdbr">pic.twitter.com/PX4T4dSdbr</a>—@CBCPLS
Mayor John Tory said that while it was hard legally to stop the march by the Christian group, he wanted to show the city was against it.
"When there is a threat, when there are people promoting division and polarization and stigmatization against the LGBTQ community or anybody else, I think it's my job to stand up and say no, that's not the way we live here, that's not what we're about in Toronto," Tory said.
He said police were also on-hand to try to prevent confrontations.
About half an hour ago we went to the St Lawrence market area where Christian Positive Space is planning a march up Church St promoting 'civil liberties.’ They have hundreds of signs ready and they’re handing out tshirts. <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/Kktkyi28ly">pic.twitter.com/Kktkyi28ly</a>—@TalRicci
Tory said it was important to show opposition to the group and fight to maintain the sense of inclusion in the city.
"It's fragile you know, human rights are fragile, the kind of respect we've built up here is fragile in a certain way," said Tory.
"Every single time there's somebody who wants to threaten the sense of inclusion, the sense of support, the sense of embracing, the sense of unity that we're trying to bring about in this, the most diverse city in the world, that you stand up and say no."