'Their love comes with contradictions': LGBTQ community rallies to counter street preacher demonstration
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Saturday, September 28, 2019 7:23AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 28, 2019 8:13PM EDT
Members of the LGBTQ community and a Christian group clashed in several rallies across downtown Toronto on Saturday.
A group of evangelicals including street preacher David Lynn and longtime activist Charles McVety planned to march up Church Street, in response to several incidents this year where preachers including Lynn were detained after bringing loudspeakers into The Village and allegedly provoking fights with people nearby.
Lynn has previously said the fact he was charged criminally for his Village encounter shows Christians are discriminated against in Toronto.
In response, the 519 Community Centre, area councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and others organized a unity rally to ensure the LGTBQ community can continue to feel safe and welcome.
Wong-Tam told CP24 they invited leaders from numerous different faith communities to show it is possible to be a devout follower of a faith and still affirm the rights of LGBTQ people to go about their day.
“Twenty 20 faith leaders came to say they can co-exist with the LGTBQ community,” she said.
She said the June 4 confrontation where Lynn was charged and a similar incident on May 1 scared residents of the area.
“They don’t want to feel like they’re going to be judged by Christian preachers.”
By early afternoon, the Christian group appeared to stay at the far south end of Church Street, near The Esplanade, well away from The Village. They held signs saying “Civil rights are for Christians too.”
Several people held a banner for Maxime Bernier’s far-right upstart federal People’s Party of Canada.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was confident the police would keep the peace.
He described the Christian demonstrators as not representing the majority view of Torontonians.
“They’re a very small group of people out there who are good at attracting publicity by being provocative. The important thing to note is they don’t represent anything but the tiniest sliver of the population of Toronto.”
A demonstrator with the evangelicals later told CP24 the march was organized entirely to support Lynn, who they say is being unfairly persecuted.
“(Lynn) came to Church Street to preach the word of God and he was arrested,” John Fapo said.
“They claim we hate LGBTQ, we don’t hate anybody.”
He later said his group “tolerates” the LGTBQ community.
The Christian group were unable to reach The Village as an opposing group composed of members of the LGBTQ community blocked their way.
They chanted,"Our streets, go home," and blasted Cher's 'Believe'. Police remained in between the two groups to keep the peace.
Reece McCrone, who uses the pronouns they and them, said they are attending the rally to silence the opposition and its message of hate.
McCrone said the Christian group is not rallying to spread tolerance and love
"Their love comes with contradictions," they said. "Their love is not a freedom of love."
McCrone said it would be a great idea to have a dialogue with the Christian group but they said the group wants to invade the LGBTQ community's space.
"We're here trying to protect ourselves and our community. And give voice to those who aren't given their voice," they said.
After both groups dispersed on Chrurch Street, the Christian group moved to Yonge Street aiming to march towards Chick-fil-A.
Members of the LGBTQ community showed up and confronted the group
Chick-fil-A was the site of protests earlier this month following its opening in Yorkville.
The U.S.- based fast-food company has faced heavy criticism due to anti-LGBTQ stances taken by the company's CEO.
Police were able to break up both groups before the rally reached the restaurant.