Hundreds protested ahead of a feminist’s speech that has sparked tensions between the city’s public library and the LGTBQ community.
Toronto Public Library officials have faced weeks of backlash after agreeing to host an event featuring freelance writer Meghan Murphy.
Murphy, a feminist journalist who has been criticized for past remarks about transgender women, was set to speak at the Palmerston branch of the Toronto Public Library at 6:45 p.m.
Murphy’s appearance has been widely condemned by members of Toronto’s LGBT community.
Murphy has argued that “allowing men to identify as women” undermines women’s rights, and that transgender women should not be allowed in women’s spaces.
The Toronto Public Library has defended its decision to host the event, saying it has an obligation to protect free speech and the event does not violate TPL’s policy on renting space for community events.
“Megan Murphy has never been charged with or convicted of hate speech as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada,” the library said in a statement.
Mayor John Tory has said he was “disappointed” in the library’s refusal to cancel the event.
Authors, politicians and activist have criticized the library’s decision.
An online petition that has garnered more than 8,000 signatures claims the library is providing space to hate speech.
“Offering Murphy a platform means denying the resources and promise of safe and equitable space to trans communities,” the petition reads.
Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong says officers will be inside and outside the event tonight in order to “keep the peace.”