Vancouver’s mayor is suggesting the creation of a “bubble zone” to keep anti-LGBTQ2 preachers out of the downtown core.
Kennedy Stewart pitched the idea Wednesday, two days after angry crowds in the city’s West End confronted street preacher David Lynn, the Toronto-based founder of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries.
“I’m absolutely pissed about what’s happening in the West End,” said Stewart of the preachers’ presence in the city’s historic gay village.
“What I’m looking at right now is a bubble zone you might call it, or peace order that would restrict these kinds of preachers from coming into the West End or anywhere in the beach area or anywhere downtown.”
Lynn told Global News Monday he was not in town to preach hate, however videos posted to his YouTube page show he has a record of attacking LGBTQ2 people, who he has said suffer from “perversion.”
The previous week, a Vancouver sportscaster Justin Morissette suffered a broken leg after confronting two amplified street preachers in the area. Area residents say the preachers have become a recurring and hateful nuisance in recent months.
Stewart said he’s in discussions with the province’s attorney general and Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer about the legalities of such a peace order.
A similar order has already been applied to the two men accused of the assault that resulted in a broken leg.
“It has to stop, this reprehensible preaching has to end,” said Stewart.
Monday’s protest grew heated, and saw Vancouver police deploy pepper spray against one demonstrator.
Demonstrator April Damaso told Global News she believes the conflict escalated when police arrived.
“As soon as the cops came in numbers and surrounded him like he was Jesus Christ himself and escorted him to the water, it became more and more unsettling for the people on my side that were fighting against any of the hateful things he was saying,” she said.
“There was not a single person on the LGBTQ+ side that were being violent. In fact there were many clips that I saw where it was the police being very excessive and pushing people with their bikes and pepper spraying people.”
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) defended its response, Wednesday, saying their job was to keep the peace and that the preacher had not committed any crime.
“In this case, the preacher’s activities did not meet the Criminal Code threshold of inciting hate,” said the VPD in a statement.
“When responding to protests, police cannot take sides, even if police officers are personally opposed to or offended by what is being said.”
Lynn, who is currently on a cross-Canada tour, has since left Vancouver and has plans to preach in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the coming days.