At 11am today (28 Sept 2013) in Toronto’s Queen’s Park, for the first time, men’s human rights activists (MHRAs) gathered together as men’s human rights activists from A Voice for Men and other organizations to show their support for men and boys and to raise awareness of the crisis so many of them are facing today..
The rally followed a presentation given by Dr. Miles Groth at the University of Toronto the night before, where counter-protesters from the U of T Student Union were expected but failed to materialize. During previous events hosted by CAFE, there were strong showings of disruptive and sometimes violent protesters who pulled fire alarms and wielded ax handles and bull horns. CAFE was fined by the U of T administration for police security just days before the event.
The number of MHRAs at the rally numbered just around one hundred and fifty people, mostly men in their mid 30s. There was a counter-protest numbering around twenty-five people – again, mostly male, calling themselves “Bash Back” who heckled the MHRAs with charges of homophobia and misogyny. There were about 20 Toronto Police officers who, early on, separated the two groups in order to prevent an altercation and allow the MHRAs to conduct their rally.
“The police acted admirably and discharged their duties professionally,” said Paul Elam, who was a keynote speaker at the rally.
Attila Vinczer was the opening speaker, with Paul Elam following. Dean Esmay, Karen Straughan, Tom Golden, Suzanne McCarley and others spoke to the crowd, which convened for over two hours.
For most attending, it was the first time they had met in person since getting involved in activism. The centerpiece of the event was a pre-recorded speech given by Warren Farrell in which he outlined his history with feminism and his eventual development as an MHRA.
“This was one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life,” said Elam. “Meeting all of these people and talking to a crowd that was five times bigger than the opposition was a remarkable event.”
Press from Vice Magazine and the Ryerson Student Union were present and interviewed several principal staff from A Voice for Men (AVfM) including Elam and Straughan. AVfM Radio broadcast live coverage of the event with James Huff, Robert O’Hara, Erin Pizzey and Mike Buchanan providing commentary.
“This is the first time I can remember men’s rights activists gathering together and protesting,” said Pizzey, a forty-year veteran of men’s human rights advocacy.
More details of the event are forthcoming. AVFM thanks all those who attended the event and all our supporters around the world who made this day possible.