CALGARY, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) – A top Canadian civil liberties group says it is “deeply troubled” by what it says is a new “unconstitutional” bylaw passed by Calgary City Council banning protesting against drag queen story times or other LGBTQ events at public facilities and is now reading a court challenge to fight it.
In a press release Wednesday, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) said that Calgary’s new “Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw,” which would disallow “specified protests” both inside and outside all city-owned and affiliated public buildings, is flawed and breaches charter rights.
The CCF said the bylaw was put in place for the explicit purpose to ban protesting against drag queen story times.
“This bylaw is not content neutral. It only prohibits specific types of protests that the government disapproves of. The courts have been very clear that the right to freedom of expression is content neutral,” CCF litigation director Christine Van Geyn said.
“The content of a protest’s expression, no matter how offensive, unpopular or disturbing cannot deprive a protester of their section 2(b) Charter protection.”
According to Van Geyn, it is not up to the government to “tell Canadians what they may or may not protest.”
“This proposed bylaw and the $10,000 fine associated with it is unconstitutional and should never have been passed. We are preparing to bring a Charter challenge,” she added.
In a 10-5 vote on Tuesday, Calgary City councillors approved its new “Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw” that would disallow “specified protests” inside and outside all city-owned and affiliated public buildings.
The bylaw means protests by pastors or concerned parents against radical LGBTQ events at public buildings will be barred within a 100-meter buffer zone around city recreation centres and libraries.
Those who are found guilty of breaking the new rules could face fines of up to $10,000 one year in jail.
The bylaw was in effect immediately after it was passed.
Normally, city bylaws go through a lengthy process of review before being passed, which includes a committee review along with a public consultation process, at which citizens can give their input. This was not done for the new bylaw.
According to the wording of the bylaw, a “specified protest” is defined as follows:
As a “means an expression of objection or disapproval towards an idea or action related to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation by any means, including graphic, verbal, or written means, but does not include messaging at an event scheduled by a library or recreation facility.”
The sudden introduction of the new “buffer” zone bylaw comes after Christian pastor Derek Reimer was jailed and charged for protesting a children’s drag queen story time at a public library over a week ago.
He was released from a Calgary jail last week after he decided to sign bail papers to take care of an urgent medical condition.
Reimer said his bail conditions from his first arrest prevent him from protesting at any drag events and that he must stay at least 500 meters away from where any drag or LGBTQ events are being held.
“The bail conditions are public knowledge, not to protest, not to be at any drag event, any homosexual event, or contact any homosexual, or being on social media,” Reimer told LifeSiteNews.
However, on Wednesday, he was forcefully arrested again by members of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) after appearing to breach his bail conditions by protesting the new bylaw that bans demonstrations against drag queen story time or other LGBTQ events at public facilities.
Left-leaning Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek has pushed a radical agenda since being elected in 2021 that has gone after pro-life and pro-family citizens. She put her full support behind the buffer zone bylaw.
In June 2022, Calgary City Council under Gondek amended the city’s bylaws to “specifically prohibit insulting or demeaning behavior, including unwanted sexual advances, or harassing anyone on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender, gender identity or gender expression, among others.”
Calgary City Council’s new bylaw is about banning protesting at drag queen story times says lawyer
Van Geyn noted that Calgary’s new bylaw is a “clear example of a short-sighted council pushing through an unconstitutional bylaw because of a current cultural touchpoint.”
“The debate at Council makes it quite clear that the concern driving this rush to enact the protest ban is protests at Drag Queen Story Hour,” Van Geyn said.
She said that Calgarians “have a right to protest such events, and indeed a right to protest any topic they choose. Calgary City Council has closed its eyes to the potential unforeseen consequences of this bylaw being used to silence speech that they themselves may agree with.”
The CCF has launched an online petition that people can sign to show their opposition to the bylaw, and noted they are “consultations with lawyers about this case.”
As for Reimer, he was hit with a slew of charges after his first arrest, including those related to so-called “hate speech,” for protesting.
He faces possible fines totaling $60,000 or four years in jail should he be convicted.
Reimer told LifeSiteNews two weeks ago he will remain committed to exposing the “evil” of these events, which he described as playing into the “perversion and the indoctrination” of kids.
In recent weeks, concerned parents have been protesting outside a public swimming pool in Calgary after an incident that saw a 15-year-old girl horrified after witnessing a naked man, who now lives as a “transgender woman,” in the women’s change room at the pool.