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Vancouver mayor consulting LGBTQ+ community, B.C.'s Attorney General to protect Davie Village

Last Updated Sep 2, 2020 at 10:23 pm PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Following recent rallies targeting LGBTQ+ communities, Vancouver’s mayor says he is going to expand on his requests to protect those in the Davie Village by seeking advice from B.C.’s Attorney General and the LGBTQ+ community.

On Tuesday, Kennedy Stewart told NEWS 1130 he’s planning to have a meeting Thursday with police chief Adam Palmer about keeping anti-gay preachers out of the West End.

“One option I’m looking at is the possibility of creating a bubble zone around the Davie Village,” he said. “And it would be something like what occurs at abortion clinics — where we have the same kind of behaviour — this kind of very threatening speech but doesn’t quite cross the line of breaking the law. And so, a bubble zone basically creates a physical distance by which you can conduct those activities.”

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In a statement Wednesday, he added he’s going to approach the province’s Attorney General David Eby to see if policies can be put in place to address “the harm and violence caused by the reprehensible anti-2SLGBTQ+ preacher and his associates.”

“But words are not enough. Action is needed,” he added in the statement.

“I’m fully committed to ensuring that our neighbours in the 2SLGBTQ+ community live in a safe and loving city. I’m hearing from the 2SLGBTQ+ community and I’ll do whatever it takes to make the vitriol, violence, and harm stop.”

The group has been in the area for the past few months, with residents complaining it’s been “weekend after weekend” of the group spewing hateful rhetoric.

“Davie Village is such an important local, provincial, and national neighbourhood, and it must be protected and nurtured. We cannot allow Davie Village to be anything but a vibrant and safe community for 2SLGBTQ+ people.”

Stewart says other possible solutions include stronger noise bylaws and asking the federal government to broaden the definition of what is considered hate speech.

“There’s been a number of ideas floating in the community; ones enforcing say a noise bylaw but that’s really just the ticket. You can pay your ticket and come back and do it over and over and over again, so that’s not something that’s going to stop targeted repeat behaviour,” he added.

“We’ve also looked at hate crime legislation, but that’s actually kind of an additional charge the Crown prosecutor would use. It’s not really a tool of the police.”

The mayor’s announcement comes after an anti-gay preacher was arrested following a confrontation with a Vancouver man that left the latter with a broken leg. It also follows two rallies which were planned in the West End by Toronto preacher David Lynn, who is known to for targetting LGBTQ+ communities and spreading hateful messages against the community.