Organizations representing the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities in the Central Okanagan are concerned over what they say are “increased mobilizations by anti-trans and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ actors” over the past year.
A joint statement by Kelowna Pride Society and several other groups and individuals, including three Central Okanagan School Board trustees, in support of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, states the actions have affected the ability to carry out events safely, free from fear, harassment, and abuse.
It also cites more than 150 actions against drag events in North America, starting in the U.S. and spreading into Canada, where at least 25 events were targeted over the past 12 months.
Several incidents that happened in the Central Okanagan are documented in the statement as well:
- Kelowna Trans Pride March 2022 was disrupted by a street preacher who shouted abusive, highly transphobic messages at attendees over an electric speaker;
- Protest against the Queer Youth Halloween Drag and Dance in Kelowna on Oct. 27, 2022, in which protestors made entirely false and highly offensive accusations about the alleged sexualization of children;
- Challenges organizing publicly for Transgender Day of Remembrance in November 2022 in Kelowna, with organizers citing safety and security risks connected to rising attacks on trans communities;
- Protest against a drag event at DunnEnzies in Kelowna on Dec. 7, 2022, at which a 2SLGBTQIA+ community member was allegedly assaulted by a protester. Prior to the event, organizers received harassing messages including death threats;
- Protest against a 19+ drag event in Penticton on Dec. 9, 2022.
- Campaign against a planned Drag Story Time event on Jan. 28 at Downtown Kelowna Library, involving an online petition and threats of violence against attendees.
“We ask elected representatives and policymakers to take active measures to ensure the safety of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. We call on our wider local and provincial communities to stand with us in solidarity in 2023 and beyond, to challenge this wave of hatred and help ensure this timeline stops now.”