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Legislation Introduced in Ontario to Ban Protests and 'Offensive Remarks' Near Drag Shows

Ontario’s Nouveau Parti démocratique de l’Ontario (NDP) has introduced legislation to ban protesting or making “offensive remarks” near a drag performance.

The NDP seeks to create “community safety zones” within 100 meters of drag shows.

The CBC reports that the bill would allow the attorney general to designate the “safety zones” ahead of any performance and subject protesters to a $25,000 fine for any “anti-LGBTQ harassment, intimidation, and hate speech.”

Speaking at a press conference about the legislation while flanked by drag queens, Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario Kristyn Wong-Tam, who uses “they/them” pronouns, said that “the rise of hate and violence facing the 2SLGBTQI-plus communities, including the drag artists, happening across Ontario and right (across) the nation has been alarming.”

Wong-Tam said that people needed to be protected from “offensive remarks.”

“Drag artists, their audiences, the businesses, and the facilities that host those drag performances have been put at risk,” she continued. “Unless we put forward a strategy to protect them, Ontario’s social, economic, and cultural richness is under attack. We have to protect that.”

“Scarlett Bobo,” a drag queen who participated in Canada’s Drag Race, also spoke during the press conference.

“Apart from the glamorous, dazzling and wacky characters I play on television or in venues around the world, I also deal with the very real struggles of homophobia, hate crimes, and acts of purposeful intent to intimidate and now disqualify who I am as a person and what I do as a job,” he said.

“Drag is all about spreading love and acceptance and allows people to feel empowered and special,” the drag queen continued. “Drag artists and trans people have an inherent right to live freely and authentically in their truth. Everyone wants and deserves to feel safe and valued in their work. That is why these recent acts of organized protests and hate speech need to be halted and condemned immediately.”

“Crystal Quartz,” a drag queen who has performed for children, claimed he was harassed for doing his show in front of kids.

“They then started showing up to all of my events, screaming at parents and myself saying they were groomers, pedophiles and a bunch of other homophobic slurs to make everyone there feel unsafe to attend,” Quartz said, according to the CBC.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles compared drag shows to abortion clinics and said they should be similarly protected from free speech.

“The sad truth is that this government has done nothing to recognize the growing violence against the queer community and even less to help stop it,” Stiles said. “New Democrats have been calling on Ford to act for months, but the premier hasn’t lifted a finger.”

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