Tempers flared between pro- and anti-trans rights protestors in Vancouver on Saturday (15 June).
Several hundred people from both sides converged outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in the early afternoon.
The two sides – both chanting and carrying banners – were largely separated by a large police presence in British Columbia’s biggest city.
While there were some minor scuffles between the rival groups, no major violence broke out.
The anti-trans protesters were demonstrating against British Columbia’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, or SOGI 123, teaching resource.
SOGI 123 is a set of education resources which aim to make schools more inclusive for LGBTI students, and combat bullying against students because of their gender identity.
— Taran Parmar (@Tarankparmar) June 15, 2019
Protestors face off outside Vancouver Art Gallery
The anti-trans rally had been organized by Parents United Canada.
A number of anti-trans campaigners spoke at the rally, though many were drowned out by singing, chanting and drumming from the counter-protesters.
Lee Keple, one of the counter-protestors, said she was shocked by how many people took part in the anti-trans rally.
‘I am just so heartsick and saddened to see how blatant the haters are. They are coming and they are preaching a message of intolerance and hate,’ she said.
Keple said she was concerned that such protests could alienate young trans people in Canada, local radio station News 1130 reports.
— Sandra Nixon (@sanixon) June 15, 2019
‘There are several members of anti-immigrant, white supremacist hate group Soldiers of Odin’
Among the anti-trans protestors speaking at the event was anti-SOGI campaigner, Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson.
Thompson is running in Canada’s federal elections for the far-right People’s Party of Canada.
During the protests, Thompson was seen in a heated argument with well-known trans rights and human rights activist, Morgane Oger. The two were separated by police, and both walked away peacefully, according to The Vancouver Sun.
The anti-trans group also appeared to have been guarded by far-right anti-immigration group, the Soldiers of Odin.
The Soldiers of Odin – which originated in Finland, but have branches in numerous western countries – have been widely accused of harboring neo-Nazi ideologies. The group denies having any neo-Nazi affiliations.
There are several members of anti-immigrant, white supremacist hate group Soldiers of Odin here at the anti-trans rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. They served as bodyguards for Jenn Smith in Victoria. Do we really want this at @ubc? @ubcprez #UBC #NoPrideInUBC #transrights pic.twitter.com/gHWYAIxviA
— UBC Students Against Bigotry (@ubc_students) June 15, 2019
ajsjfhfjskdjfjjf the anti-trans protesters LITERALLY THANKED THE SOLDIERS OF ODIN AT THE END
— ⎛⎝☆JayeCat☆⎠⎞⚧ (@JayeTweet) June 15, 2019
‘There’s an active effort in schools by educators to include diversity in the education’
In the past, trans rights activists have praised the efforts to educate and advocate for trans rights in British Columbia.
‘There’s an active effort in schools by educators to include diversity in the education,’ Oger, who chairs the Trans Alliance Society, said in November 2018.
‘For example, rather than always talking about “Billie” and “Suzie” […] and they have a mom and a dad, now we talk about maybe sometimes they have two moms and one of the parents might be trans,’ Oger added.
The province also recognizes people who identify as non-binary and offers the option of ‘X’ in the gender classification on identification cards.