A person holds a "Trans" banner in this illustration photo. OSV News photo/Sergio Perez, Reuters

Editorial: Equality for some

  • April 14, 2023

Concerns about an Ontario NDP MPP’s new bill to protect drag queens from protests have understandably focused on free speech encroachment but as a result have overlooked more pragmatic questions.

If police in, say, a city like Toronto lack numbers to keep 16-year-old boys from being murdered in the subway system, or to keep girls aged 13-16 from rampaging through the downtown core stabbing homeless men, should they then be deployed to enforce comfort zones at the behest of men who dress up as exuberant women in public? A second question follows: Even if sufficient police were so deployed, how effectively could they reassure the dressers up that all is safe and well?

Of course, no one should suffer violence, or illegal hatred as defined by the Supreme Court of Canada, for their orientation or haberdashery. But there is a world of difference between such things and discomfiting protests even by yahoos and vulgarians.

Such discernment apparently escaped Toronto Centre New Democrat Kristyn Wong-Tam as she drafted her Protecting 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Act. It would use the federal Criminal Code to ban offensive remarks about drag queens and others who align under the Act’s acronym. It would further prohibit distribution of literature said — said by whom seems unclear — to further the unspecified “objectives of homophobia and transphobia.” It would reportedly apply only in areas where self-identifiers under the acronym are said to gather.

How such geo-precision policing would satisfy equality under the law remains an open question, though its absence seems to have fazed neither MPP Wong-Tam nor Scarlett Bobo and Crystal Quartz (possibly pseudonyms used for protective purposes), drag queens who backed her at a press conference to kick-line the legislation.

Perhaps all three knew full well the legislation is more of an act than an Act. There’s no hope in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks it will pass Ontario’s Conservative majority. By no means should it then cease to be of pragmatic concern, particularly to those of religious faith for whom acts given special status by the proposed bill are scripturally antithetical.

Wong-Tam’s Act, after all, did not emerge fully formed in the creative minds behind Drag Queen Story Hours at local libraries. Its genesis is in long-standing bubble zone laws sealing off abortion clinics from protesters. The federal government invoked its spirit at hospitals during COVID protests, and then brutishly with proclamation of the Emergencies Act. It has since been dusted off by Calgary’s mayor to suppress protests at city hall. Policing free speech is hardly the half of it. The major part is re-emergence of the ancient human impulse to suppress those whom we do not like because they profess and live out beliefs that contradict us.

When the Church, by its nature, is a contradiction to the world, we should not be surprised if we’re dragged into this for what we might say and, much more practically, for who we truly are.

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