Reaction: Toronto police criticized for shutting down preacher at Gay Pride parade
TORONTO, Ontario, July 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canadian pro-family leaders have expressed outrage over the treatment a sidewalk preacher received at the hands of the Toronto Police Force during the recent Gay Pride parade. As many as 12 police officers surrounded the preacher, who was peacefully spreading Gospel messages, and shut him down, forcing him to vacate the area.
“The Gay community is free to walk around nude on the streets, violating Canada’s Criminal Code, but a preacher is not free to stand up and preach that ‘God loves you’. It’s a pretty dangerous country when it comes to that,” said Dr. Charles McVety, Evangelical minister and show host of The Canadian Times, to LifeSiteNews.
On Canada day, preacher David Lynn and his team from Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries had set up a portable microphone system on a small cart, near the corner of Yonge and Wellesley, from which they preached and handed out religious tracts and free bibles. Lynn told LifeSiteNews that he was there at the parade to preach to the LGBT community about the love of God.
“Jesus died for the entire world,” he said. “Everybody has an opportunity to be saved, including people at the Pride parade. There is no difference between them and me. I am a sinner just like they are. I wouldn’t have wasted my time if I didn’t think God’s loves them, if I didn’t think that there is hope for them.”
But Lynn’s Gospel message earned him the ire of parade participants and attendees. Video cameras captured Lynn’s interactions with attendees at the event and subsequent police intervention.
At one point, Lynn was surrounded by as many as 12 officers.
“Guys, everybody, by staying listening to it you’re helping him get his message across. If you ignore him, it all goes away,” shouted officer T. Adams to the crowd that had gathered around the preacher.
“You’re promoting hate,” Staff Sergeant R. Pasini, 4528, said to Lynn at one point.
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Police finally compelled Lynn and his team to leave amid shouts of “Thank you Toronto police” from pro-Pride spectators.
“They shut him down, roughed him up a bit, and moved him on. It’s just like the KGB would have done,” said McVety. “It’s a scary time. And the incredible thing here is the deafening silence of the free press.”
Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice president of REAL Women of Canada, told LifeSiteNews that what happened to Lynn is “very much an attack on freedom of speech under Section 2 of the Charter.”
Section 2 of the Charter states that everyone has the “fundamental freedoms” of “religion…of thought, belief, opinion and expression…[and] of peaceful assembly”.
Landolt pointed out that what happened to the preacher showcases what she called the “intolerance of the homosexual activists,” who she says are well-represented within the ranks of the Toronto Police Force.
“These homosexual activists are the most intolerant group in all of Canada. Anybody who has a different opinion than their agenda, they wish to silence. They don’t want such people to speak on any subject at any place at any time. They are unbelievable intolerant.”
At the same time, Don Hutchinson, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), told LifeSiteNews that while he did “not agree with some of the comments made by the police officers,” he thought that the police officers took “reasonable steps to keep the peace.” Prior to the arrival of the police, Lynn had been surrounded by enraged pride participants, with whom he had attempted to have a back-and-forth dialogue.
But others accused the Toronto Police Force of operating by a double-standard during the Gay Pride event by not laying chargers against nude paraders while telling a peaceful street preacher and his ministry team to disband.
“There were a large number of people who were completely naked which is illegal and the police refused to do anything about this,” said Michael Coren, outspoken conservative host of SunNews’ The Arena, on his show last week.
“Why would any person, Gay or Straight, think that it was normal to walk alone naked [in a parade]? Why would they do that? Would the not feel incredibly guilty that there are children looking at them?” asked Coren.
“There’re saying ‘we’re gay, we’re proud, respect us, treat us properly, don’t laugh at us, don’t think we’re strange, and this is how they behave.”
Landolt agreed. “Police officers are supposed to objectively apply the law,” she said. “There was nudity on the streets in the parade. Why did they not lay charges under section 174 of the Criminal Code for public nudity?”
Section 174 of the Criminal Code states that “every one who, without lawful excuse, is nude in a public place, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”
“What we have here are police not being impartial and failing to apply the law as it is written, but applying it according to their own prejudices and biases,” said Landolt.
Coren said that the law should apply equally to all, no matter what the occasion. “You break the law, you should be charged. But apparently there is a double-standard now in contemporary Canada,” he said.
“We’ve aspired to that, we’ve achieved that. Are you proud? Are you really proud?”
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Mayor Ford’s office by press time.
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Ph: (877) 411-4773
Complaint against police form
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto
Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Ph: (416) 397-3673
E-mail: [email protected]
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