At least two people have been arrested outside the B.C. legislature Wednesday amid ongoing anti-SOGI and counter-protests that have “become unsafe,” according to Victoria police.
Around 2:30 p.m., VicPD said they were asking demonstrators to leave the area in downtown Victoria due to “escalating tensions” among the approximately 2,500 people in attendance.
“Two arrests have been made and the organizers of the planned demonstration have left the area,” VicPD said in a news release.
“VicPD and Public Safety Unit officers will remain in the area until the crowd has dispersed.”
Earlier Wednesday, VicPD said they would be attending the protests, which were expected to cause traffic disruptions in the area.
They expected the demonstrations to begin around noon, and at approximately 2:30 p.m., police officers would begin conducting rolling road closures around the downtown core for a march.
Now, VicPD says these planned closures will not occur.
“VicPD supports everyone’s right to safe, peaceful and lawful protest, and asks that all citizens respect this right,” said the police department in a release Wednesday morning.
“Dangerous or unlawful activity will be met with de-escalation and enforcement.”
Wednesday’s protests and counter-protests are part of a nationwide event started by the group “1MillionMarch4Children.”
- ‘You’re not alone’: Community organizes counter-protests against anti-LGBTQ+ movement
- Cross-country rallies against ‘gender ideology’ in schools met with counter-protests
SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity.
1MillionMarch4Children says it opposes what it calls “gender ideology” in the nation’s schools, and that schools are exposing children to inappropriate content about sexuality and gender identity, and they support the policies requiring parental consent.
Meanwhile, others say the rallies and policies they are promoting violate children’s rights and that transgender youth should not be outed to their parents by teachers.
KJ Reed, a professor of studies in women and gender at Vancouver Island University, says the counter-protests are important because it shows queer and trans youth that there are adults and others in the community that support them.
“It’s sending the message that bigotry is not welcome in our communities, and it’s countering hate and bigotry with peace and love and celebration, sending the message that if you’re queer or trans, it’s great to be your authentic self,” they said.
In addition to the protests and counter-protests happening in Victoria, similar events are planned in Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Courtenay.
— Rob Shaw (@RobShaw_BC) September 20, 2023
-With files from CHEK’s Laura Brougham, The Canadian Press