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Crime

Edmonton police hate crimes unit investigates blog posts targeting LGBTQ gym

File: Edmonton police badge.
File: Edmonton police badge. The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon

Edmonton police say the hate crimes unit is investigating blog posts by a far-right organization, targeting a local LGBTQ gym.

In a statement on Facebook Thursday, Queerflex said the gym was maliciously targeted by a group called Patriot Pride Canada Wide.

In a blog post Tuesday, Patriot Pride Canada Wide wrote that the gym is a “training compound for domestic terrorist” (sic). The post included names and pictures of members of the gym.

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Queerflex is a non-profit gym for queer, trans and non-binary people. It also offers counselling services. Until further notice, the gym is closed, classes are cancelled and memberships suspended.

“We’re going to take this period to reflect on our security measures, evaluate how we can keep everyone safe, hopefully improve some of the infrastructure so that when we reopen, Queerflex will remain a safe space,” said a spokesperson, whose identity Global News has agreed to protect out of safety concerns.

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The spokesperson said everyone associated with the gym is shaken.

“It’s a really unfathomably difficult thing to be going through,” they said.

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“People in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community already have to be concerned for their safety and their security and that they might not be accepted and embraced for who they are. But to also now have to fear for your safety and security because of targeted online attacks is just unthinkable.”

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They said incidents like this further highlight the need for safe spaces for the LGBTQ community.

“The reason that Queerflex exists is that the needs of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are unique and complex and diverse. And so we want to offer services that are affirming of everyone’s identity.”

They added they have received an outpouring of support from the community.

“We just want to thank everyone for standing with us. When these kind of things happen it’s really important that people band together and we’re so grateful for the support we’ve received.”

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Queerflex is working with police and a security expert to ensure the safety of its members. It will post updates on its website and social media channels.

Police said the hate crimes unit was aware of Patriot Pride Canada Wide before this incident, but the group has not been the subject of any other investigations.

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