Protesters converge outside The Hub, a community space on Fort Street, where controversial speaker Jenn Smith was holding a talk. (Nina Grossman/News Staf)

Protesters swarm Fort Street to challenge anti-trans speaker

Jenn Smith returns to Greater Victoria after Oak Bay event drowned out by protesters in May

A controversial anti-SOGI speaker returned to Victoria Thursday night to talk about “assault on free speech.”

READ ALSO: Freedom of Speech group criticizes UBC for charging Jenn Smith backers ‘security fees’

The talk was focused on Smith’s concerns about “an elite war on freedom of speech online” and promised an announcement “suggesting gross negligence” by government in handling transgender children. In a Facebook post, Smith implicated he was calling for a “provincial inquiry into the mass transitioning of foster children and orphans.”

Jenn Smith, who identifies as a transgender man and critic of transgender ideology stopped was in Oak Bay in May during his Erosion of Freedom tour through B.C. That talk, held at the Windsor Pavilion, was met with a large counter protest – between 200-300 protesters chanted, sang and waved LBTQ+ and transgender pride flags outside the facility. The tension-filled event was eventually shut down by Oak Bay Police and fire department.

RELATED: VIDEO: Hundreds of protesters drown out anti-SOGI speakers in Oak Bay

RELATED: Saanich church hosts anti-SOGI rally, drawing pro-SOGI protests

Protesters outside the Fort Street community hub where controversial transgender speaker Jenn Smith was speaking said they were there to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Smith’s Thursday night event was held at the The Hub, a commercial space donated by PARC Retirement Living on a temporary basis for use by small non profits. PARC’s community engagement coordinator Rick Marzolf released a statement Thursday saying it had requested the leaseholder cancel the event due to Smith’s history of controversy, but the leaseholder had decided to go forward with the talk, “due to what he perceived to be outside interference and aggressive social media posts, emails and calls opposing the event.”

“We apologize to any of our adjacent landowners, tenants and neighbours if there is any disruption to your operations as a result of the event,” Marzolf stated.

The event – which appeared to have about ten attendees – drew another large group of protesters. Sage burned as a crowd of about 100 chanted: “Trans rights are human rights.” “No hate on Salish land.” “Trans women are women.” “Trans men are men.”

The talk continued inside while protesters continued to chant and cheer. Members of the Victoria Police Department were present to help with safety, if needed.

“It is important to educate and encourage people to break the hatred, break the ignorance and come together in the name of love,” said protester Tryce Blion. “Trans rights are human rights, they are human beings just like anyone else, and everyone deserves education, love and support. We can get there we just need each other.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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