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COVID-19 protests in Canadian capital turn violent and anti-LGBTQ

Government sharply criticized over convoy response



Screenshot of AP news coverage of Canadian protests against COVID 19 mandates

As the nationwide protests against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government’s mandates on vaccinations, masks, and other preventative measures against the coronavirus pandemic enters a second week, ground zero for the so-called “Freedom” demonstrations in Ottawa’s downtown area has become so combative that residents are now in fear.

In multiple interviews with Canadian media outlets including the CBC, Ottawans say they are under siege.

“For 10 days, downtown residents have been subjected to relentless honking, choking diesel fumes from trucks parked near their homes. They’ve expressed outrage over the open display of hate symbols, and some say they’ve been subjected to racial, homophobic and transphobic slurs. Others claim they’ve been attacked for wearing masks,” the CBC reported Tuesday.

“Many residents say they’ve felt let down by all levels of government and police since the protest convoy arrived Jan. 28.”

In addition to the unceasing cataphonics of the truckers blaring horns as they continue to block most of the thoroughfares in downtown, the noise soon to be abated by a temporary injunction issued by Justice Hugh McLean during a court hearing in Ottawa Monday which is effective immediately and is meant to silence the horns at all hours for the next 10 days, wanton acts and threats of violence continue to plague the city’s residents.

Blatant acts of racism also have residents on edge.

“Being a woman of color, I felt very fearful,” said Arushana, who left her home in the ByWard Market to stay with a colleague in the Glebe last weekend. (CBC is not using her last name because she is concerned for her safety.)

After putting up with sleepless nights and fireworks being aimed at her building, one of the final straws was seeing a Confederate flag on her way home from work.

“I broke down,” she said. “As a first generation immigrant child, seeing such hatred, especially when my parents came to this country to provide me and my sister with a better opportunity and a better life … I didn’t feel safe.”

CBC reported that its journalists also heard dozens of similar stories from people via e-mail.

[Yet another wrote] she was confronted on her way to the grocery store. 

“I was shoved, screamed at, called [sexist and homophobic slurs], and had three large men try to pen me in and physically block my way, because I was wearing a mask,” she wrote.

Screenshot of CBC coverage showing protestors riding horses in downtown Ottawa, one carrying a 2020 Trump campaign flag.

The Washington Blade spoke with a gay resident who asked to not be identified who said that he had left a Tim Hortons located on Albert Street not far from Parliament Hill when he encountered a group of trucker-protestors who immediately verbally assaulted him.

“They shoved me up against the side of the building and then snatched my toque off my head and then they saw the design on it — the gay maple leaf flag, it got ugly. One of them got in my face and said that wearing it was a desecration. Then he shoved me hard, called me a faggot and threatened to beat me. I managed to get away but I’m now at my cousins. I don’t feel safe to go back to my flat,” he told the Blade.

The protests have also gotten the backing of American anti-mask/vaccination activists including prominent anti-LGBTQ evangelicals. On his Facebook page, Franklin Graham urged Canadians to back the truckers and others:

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Canada lifts gay blood donor ban

It’s 1st time Statistics Canada differentiated between “sex at birth” & “gender” in census- 3 mo. donor deferral period for gay/bi men ends



Health Canada approved Canadian Blood Services’ submission to eliminate the three-month donor deferral period for gay and bisexual men as well as some other folks in the LGBTQ+ community CTV News reported Thursday.

The policy change, which was years in the making, will allow Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to introduce the new behavior-based questionnaire by Sept. 30. It will apply to both blood and plasma donations. CBS will be able to screen all donors regardless of gender or sexuality. Instead, donors will be screened based on their sexual behaviors.

Census data released Wednesday offers an unprecedented snapshot of Canada’s transgender population, showing 0.33 per cent of residents identify as a gender that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

The data collected during last year’s national household survey shows about 100,815 people are transgender or non-binary, including 31,555 who are transgender women, 27,905 who are transgender men and 41,355 who are non-binary, CTV News reported.

It’s the first time Statistics Canada has differentiated between “sex at birth” and “gender” in the census. While the agency and advocates agree the new numbers likely underestimate the true size of the population, they say the data will offer crucial insight into a marginalized community.

Fae Johnstone, a transgender advocate, told CTV that population-level data backing up trans people’s lived experience has thus far been slim, so this new information is important both symbolically and practically.

“It says something when our government is recognizing the existence of trans folks who have historically been kept out of these conversations and uncounted,” Johnstone said. “But it also is useful to us to better understand how we can focus interventions and address health inequities experienced by trans folks across this country.”

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