The Supreme Court of British Columbia has granted an injunction to the provincial government, prohibiting the display of “hateful” anti-trans and COVID-19 denial banners on a North Vancouver highway bridge. The court order came after a group of around 20 protestors refused to remove the placards from the Mountain Highway Overpass despite requests from law enforcement and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The placards were deemed a safety hazard for both motorists and protestors. The injunction prohibits any congregation, sign hanging, or obstruction of traffic on or near the overpass.
The North Vancouver RCMP had previously requested the protestors to leave multiple times, and on Saturday, they informed the group about the injunction, resulting in an early departure without enforcement actions. Const. Mansoor Sahak stated that the intention was to educate the protestors about potential consequences and ensure a peaceful resolution.
The billboards in question contain false and disproven claims about transgender individuals, the COVID-19 pandemic, and anti-vaccine conspiracies. One of the placards states that “no child is ever born in the wrong body,” while another focuses on defending children from alleged pharmaceutical industry greed. North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan condemned the placards as “hateful, derogatory, and false” and expressed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
Although no organized group has claimed responsibility for the protests, some placards direct viewers to a website linked to a group opposing the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) themes in British Columbia schools. The group, called the SOGI123 Task Force, criticizes the SOGI123 programming and includes individuals affiliated with organizations that dispute the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Similar expressions of beliefs have been observed in other communities, such as West Kelowna and Abbotsford. In February, a billboard with similar messaging in West Kelowna was removed due to concerns raised by 2SLGBTQA advocates regarding hate and safety issues. The content was seen as an attack on teachers, transgender students, and the LGBTQ+ community. Abbotsford also had placards displayed on a highway overpass, as seen in footage posted on Instagram by a supporter of the North Vancouver demonstration.
It remains uncertain whether the North Vancouver protestors will comply with the injunction. The issue highlights the ongoing conflicts and tensions surrounding issues of gender identity, COVID-19, and freedom of expression in various communities across British Columbia.