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FactCheck: Proposed Ontario Bill for LGBTQ+ Community Safety Zones Sparks Misinformation
Photo Credit: Felix Uresti
Posts Make Misleading Claims About Bill to Protect LGBTQ+ Events in Ontario
Drag performances have become a contentious issue in North America, with frequent protests and controversies surrounding them. In response, Kristyn Wong-Tam and three other members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario proposed the 2SLGBTQI+ Community Safety Zones Act on April 4, 2023. The bill aims to provide legal protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community and drag artists. It proposes that the Ontario attorney general can designate specific areas where 2SLGBTQI+ individuals congregate as a 2SLGBTQI+ community safety zone for a set period of time. Within the designated boundary, committing acts of intimidation, such as causing a disturbance, distributing hate propaganda, or engaging in a protest for the purpose of homophobia or transphobia, would be illegal. The attorney general would be responsible for publicizing the location and duration of the community safety zone, and anyone violating its guidelines would be subject to fines of up to $25,000. However, peaceful protests and demonstrations would not be prohibited by this act.
The bill has been misrepresented on social media, with claims that it would make all protests against the LGBTQ+ community illegal in Canada. These claims are false, as the bill has not yet become law, and it does not call for a complete ban on protests against the LGBTQ+ community in Ontario or Canada.
According to Christopher Cochrane, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, the 2SLGBTQI+ Community Safety Zones Act is a private members’ public bill, which means that it can address any topic within the province’s jurisdiction, provided that it does not impose a tax or specifically direct the allocation of public funds. Private members’ bills typically do not become law, but they can bring attention to matters of concern to private members, their constituencies, or their parties. Even if a private members’ bill does not pass, it can influence future policy directions or have an impact on government policy.
As of now, the 2SLGBTQI+ Community Safety Zones Act has only passed First Reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It still needs to go through Second Reading, Third Reading, and Royal Assent before becoming law. Therefore, claims that Canada has made it illegal to protest against the LGBTQ+ community are untrue.