A group of religious protesters interrupted a drag queen storytelling event for children in Ottawa on Saturday, claiming the event was "child abuse."
Organizers say the interruption was "hateful" and "bigoted" and called the police. No one, however, was arrested.
About 100 parents and children attended the Westcliffe Community Centre, in Bells Corners, for a storytelling event by Adrianna Exposée, a local drag queen.
The event was meant to teach children about inclusiveness but took a turn near the end, with a protester flinging insults.
When the organizers asked participants if they had questions, a man began to read passages from the Bible. He then spoke to Exposée, accusing her of dressing "like a whore."
"Are you teaching children to be whores?" the man can be heard saying on video captured by Radio-Canada.
The verbal altercation lasted several minutes and was filmed by other members of the group. Organizers quickly asked the man to leave, while parents took to the defence of Exposée.
The protesters left and continued their video outside the community centre after organizers contacted the Ottawa police. "Believe in Jesus, kids. Don't believe in LGBTQ!" one man shouted as he left.
Police arrived and spoke with the protesters, who eventually left the area.
Exposée said she's open to hearing different points of view, but the way in which protesters interrupted her show was shocking and wrong.
"I found it very inappropriate," she said. "We did rent out the space for ourselves to educate kids on what we believe, which is inclusion, diversity and love.
"I'm open to hearing all opinions, always. I am a very open-minded person, but to come in here, in that way, in that manner — it was hateful."
Exposée said she was comforted by the fact that people stood up to the protester and asked him to leave.
Interruption 'devastating,' organizer says
Megan Loney, an organizer of the event, said she was so devastated by what happened she immediately left the room when the man began speaking.
"It was so the opposite of what today was supposed to be," she said. "It was supposed to be about diversity and inclusivity and love and fun, and what happened was the total opposite of that. It was hateful and it was bigoted."
Tristan and Michelle Maack brought their two young sons to the event to teach them about diversity.
"We always tell them to accept all people and people can be whatever way they want to be," Tristan Maack said.
But he added that it was an unfortunate ending to what was an otherwise great event.
"I just think that's a really sad thing that they would come all the way here on a Saturday, just to tell people they're wrong," Tristan said. "I just feel sorry for those people."
Loney said it was at least encouraging to see parents stand up to the protesters.
"I think there are more people who are loving and welcoming and compassionate than there are hateful, bigoted and spiteful," she said.
Capital Pride condemns incident
Capital Pride, which kicked off on Sunday, issued a statement to condemn the protesters.
"The violent and hateful incidents that occurred at a community organized family drag story time have no place in our community," the statement reads.
"These acts are aimed only at silencing and dividing our communities. We will not be silenced. We will unite and will not stop our efforts to build a more inclusive community."
Capital Pride said it is reviewing safety and security plans for its events this week.