LGBTQ+ activists and allies sent out a strong message against fascism, homophobia and transphobia on September 28. Community members rallied at Toronto’s St. James Park in an act of unity and defense against a planned “Christian Positive Space” march through the Church and Wellesley village. Activists gathered on the lawn beside St. James Cathedral before noon and marched down to Wellington Street to block the hate group from marching.
The “Christian Positive Space” group has known ties to white supremacists and fascists, including members of PEGIDA. They planned to march along the entirety of Church Street, which would have taken them directly through the heart of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community. The group is connected to the June 4 arrest of David Lynn, a street preacher who antagonized residents in the Village just as Pride month had kicked off.
A formidable crowd of a couple hundred stood in the pouring rain and proudly proclaimed their opposition to hate. Activists and allies were needed for an indefinite period of time until the “Christian Positive Space” left. Community members handed out snacks and played music to keep up the camaraderie as the crowd drowned out the hate group with messages of unity and solidarity. A parallel event was held at Barbara Hall Park, where community leaders and city officials spoke.
After over four hours the hate group fell back, and protest marshals led the crowd back up Church Street to a sit-in. The fascists then attempted to march a parallel route on Yonge Street. A smaller contingent of anti-fascists followed along to block the group from moving forward, and an overwhelming number of police officers were deployed as a standoff ensued at Yonge and Adelaide Streets. It was not until around 7 PM that the “Christian Positive Space” group finally dispersed.
The rally was organized by the 519 Community Centre’s Army of Lovers and other community activists, who had also led workshops on protest safety and civil rights in the days preceding the event.
[Photo credit: Susie Henderson]