Canadian Pastor Faces Hate Charges For Protesting Drag Storytime

A growing number of Republican officials across the United States are pushing for laws that would limit children’s exposure to sexually explicit drag performances. In Canada, however, protesting such events can apparently lead to hate crime charges.

According to reports, pastor Derek Scott Reimer showed up at Seton Library in Calgary, Alberta, to voice opposition to an event dubbed “Reading with Royalty” late last month.

He was one of several demonstrators who arrived to protest drag queens leading an audience that included children in a read-along, which has become a growing trend in recent years. Video of the incident indicates that Reimer was forcefully expelled from the location and thrown to the ground.

Instead of pursuing assault charges against the individuals who pushed the pastor, however, authorities determined that he was the one who deserved criminal prosecution.

According to a police statement: “We were subsequently called to the location for reports that several individuals aggressively entered a library classroom, shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs at the children and parents in attendance, scaring the children while causing a disturbance and subsequently refusing to leave.”

In addition to recommending prosecution for hate-motivated disturbance and mischief, authorities say he should be charged with six counts of harassment, each of which can result in a $10,000 fine or up to six months behind bars upon conviction.

Calgary Chief of Community Standards Ryan Pleckaitis, who endorsed an expansion of anti-discrimination bylaws that paved the way for the enhanced charges against Reimer, asserted that they “were created as a clear message that Calgary is a place everyone should feel welcome and safe, and free from harassment.”

The pastor’s attorney argues that he does not feel welcome and safe in Calgary, asserting that conditions of a proposed release order — including avoiding all conduct with LGBTQ individuals — would be impossible.

Calgary Public Library has postponed a similar drag event in light of recent developments and issued a statement condemning the demonstration.

“The right to protest is fundamental to our democracy, but what happened last weekend inside Seton Library was not a protest,” the library claimed. “It was an organized, targeted and intimidating disruption of a program in a space where small children were present.”

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