Two protests planned in opposition to anti-SOGI transgender speaker coming to Oak Bay

Two protests planned in opposition to anti-SOGI transgender speaker coming to Oak Bay

WATCH: Two separate protests are being planned in Oak Bay Thursday in response to an event they say promotes discrimination against transgender people. April Lawrence has more.

An event planned this Thursday at Oak Bay Recreation’s Windsor Pavilion is causing an uproar in the community. It’s called “The Erosion of Freedom: how transgender politics in school and society is undermining our freedom and harming women and children”.

But some in the community say it’s promoting discrimination and hatred of transgender people and say the event shouldn’t be taking place at a publicly funded facility.

“It stirs up a lot of fear, and a lot of hurt and a lot of angst,” said Ryan Painter, a local school board trustee who has organized a protest event outside Windsor Pavilion Thursday night.

“We’re going to have speakers there who are promoting love, promoting support and supporting inclusion,” he said.

The ‘Erosion of Freedom’ speaking tour is happening in four Vancouver Island communities and features transgender speaker and vocal opponent to the SOGI 123 anti-bullying program, Jenn Smith.

Even Oak Bay’s mayor is getting involved, organizing his own “inclusion event” in response.

“There’s a lot of people that just want to express their support for everybody, for transgender and LGBTQ plus community so we’re going to have some people get together just for that,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch, who says he hasn’t yet decided on a location for his event.

He says it isn’t up to Oak Bay staff to vet each facility booking and any anger at this event should be directed at council.

Jenn Smith insists allegations he’s promoting hatred and discrimination are false and that the people of Oak Bay are being misled. He says he is there to argue policies and laws he disagrees with, not to attack transgender people, and says he has a  right to free speech.

Oak Bay Council is consulting with legal counsel and will meet Monday night to make a decision on whether the event should be cancelled.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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