Ontario’s NDP urged the government Tuesday to create community safety zones that would protect drag artists and LGBTQ communities from harassment and intimidation at their performances.
Drag performances have been targeted by organized protests across the United States but also here at home, said Kristyn Wong-Tam, who is putting forward a private member’s bill to designate 100-metre zones around show venues.
“The topic that brings us here is deadly serious,” Wong-Tam said at a press conference. “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.”
Statistics Canada figures show a 64 per cent rise in police-reported hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, jumping from 258 in 2020 to 423 in 2021.
“Drag artists, their audiences, the businesses and the facilities that host those drag performances have been put at risk,” they said.
“Unless we put forward a strategy to protect them, Ontario’s social, economic and cultural richness is under attack. We have to protect that.”
The bill would allow the attorney general to temporarily designate addresses — such as where a show is taking place — as community safety zones, and anti-LGBTQ harassment, intimidation and hate speech within 100 metres would be subject to a $25,000 fine.