A Canadian man who travels worldwide to advocate against puberty blockers being used on children who may have gender confusion has claimed Gardaí in Dublin City Centre threatened to arrest him.
The campaigner, known as ‘Billboard Chris’ has over 270,000 followers on Twitter – and has become known for speaking out against gender ideology – the belief that sex is fluid and not a binary of male and female – and against medical transition for children by travelling to different parts of the world through starting conversations on the street.
The father of two claims that children cannot consent to puberty blockers, and he believes gender ideology is harmful.
He arrived in Ireland on Friday, where he launched his campaign in Dublin City Centre.
“The Irish know that children cannot consent to puberty blockers,” he posted to social media on Friday, along with a photo of him with his billboard in Dublin city centre.
“I must have been seen by 200,000 in Dublin today. I’ve had one negative comment,” he said.
The Irish know that children cannot consent to puberty blockers! 🍀
I must have been seen by 200,000 in Dublin today. I’ve had only one negative comment. pic.twitter.com/uOxjDocJNK
— Billboard Chris 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@BillboardChris) May 19, 2023
Despite receiving a positive response on Friday, Billboard Chris took to Twitter on Saturday to share an update, claiming that Gardai had threatened to arrest him for his “offensive” message.
“Irish police are threatening to arrest me. I called their bluff,” he wrote, sharing a video which has received over one million views in six hours.
Irish police are threatening to arrest me. I called their bluff. pic.twitter.com/9bmcVAMdjV
— Billboard Chris 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@BillboardChris) May 20, 2023
The Garda who confronts Chris tells him that he received a complaint that the advocate was in the Disney Store in the city centre, which Chris denies – telling him to check the CCTV.
“What is your business in the city today?” he asks. “Especially inside there – inside the Disney store?”
“I wasn’t in the Disney store,” he replies. “I’ve been out here having conversations.”
“Listen, if I go and check the CCTV there, it won’t show you inside the Disney store?” the garda asks, to which Chris responds: “100 percent”.
The garda then asks the campaigner what his purpose for being on the street is.
“What are you trying to do here today? What’s your overall objective?” the officer asked Billboard Chris in the video, to which he responds: “I have conversions, that’s all I do,” he replies.
“I’m actually from Canada. I’ve been travelling North America since September 2020 just having conversations to raise awareness about this issue, and that’s all I do,” Chris says.
The garda then asks him, “What is the issue exactly that you’re talking to people about?”
Chris responds by telling the garda that: “I just talk about the business of giving children puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones. In certain jurisdictions of the world they do surgeries on these kids as well, so I just talk about wherever the conversation goes – about gender ideology.”
The garda replies: “That’s fine. To talk, I suppose, is fine. But realistically, you can’t be inside shops”. Chris replies by again denying he was in the Disney Store.
“Please go look at the CCTV footage,” he says.
The garda then asks the American campaigner what the front and back of his billboard sign says.
“Is that your opinion?” the garda asks, as a crowd starts building up around the confrontation.
‘SOME PEOPLE MAY TAKE OFFENCE AT THIS’
“Opinions are still allowed, right?” Chris answers. The garda responds, however, by telling Chris that his message could be deemed to be “offensive” by people walking in the city centre.
“Yeah – [but] where you could fall short there, realistically, is, [having] material in a public place that may be offensive to others. Ok, that would be contrary to Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act – Public Order Act 1994. So that’s where you could fall short there of committing that offence. So what you’re doing, obviously, that’s what you’re doing, but others – especially here – could find that to be offensive in that regard,” he tells Chris.
Chris responds by telling the garda that the response he has received has been overwhelmingly supportive so far.
“Actually, I’ve been out here for five, six hours, including yesterday – I’ve had three negative comments, and probably, 100 positive ones, tonnes of beautiful conversations – 99 percent of people out here agree with this. So all I do is have calm and peaceful, fact based conversations.”
“Someone’s obviously filed a false report with you saying I was inside the Disney Store,” Chris claims. “So you should go look at the CCTV footage.”
However, the Garda claps back by stressing Chris’s potential to offend.
“Yeah, but what I’m saying to you is some people may take offence to that – and that’s where you fall short there,” he said.
When Chris asks the Garda if they are going to arrest him for causing ‘offence,’ the officer denies this, saying: “No one said anything about arresting you”.
“I’m not saying you can’t have conversations,” the garda says. “I’m just saying that the signs that you’re displaying […] people [can find this message offensive], and that would be a breach of the law.”
Billboard Chris argues, “But some people could find anything offensive. So could anything be in breach of that law?”
The video goes on to get more heated between the two men.
“I’m not going to arrest you [but] you are to stay away from the Disney store,” the garda tells Chris – who again denies he was there.
“Your entire claim is based on a lie,” Chris says, before the garda explains that they will give Chris “a directive to leave this entire area”.
“Why should I leave this entire area?” he asks, to which the officer replies, “Because I’ve requested you to.”
Chris slams the Garda saying he does not appreciate the Gardai’s “ridiculous behaviour”.
“I’m not doing anything, I haven’t offended anyone [that I’m aware of] and I’m not moving off this street. I know my rights, I’ve read the Irish law,” he insists.
“If you go to the Disney store, you may be arrested,” he tells Chris before he leaves.
Once the garda leaves, Chris is met with praise from onlookers, with one man telling him, “Well done, keep it up” while another says, “thank you for doing that.”
The campaigner was inundated with supportive comments on Twitter, with people describing the behaviour of the gardai as “shocking” and “embarrassing”.
Others said the Garda had done a good job at handling the situation in a “respectful” and “calm” way – however many claimed that the law had been applied incorrectly, arguing that nothing in Irish law states you cannot display something which may be deemed ‘offensive’.
Many were quick to use the incident to advocate against proposed Hate Speech legislation. Senator Sharon Keogan was among high-profile defenders of Billboard Chris, tweeting today: “We have nothing to worry about with the new legislation. This Garda has it all covered. I’m done with @WaltDisneyCo #WakeUpIreland #FreeSpeech.”
We have nothing to worry about with the new legislation. This Garda has it all covered. I'm done with @WaltDisneyCo #WakeUpIreland #FreeSpeech https://t.co/8Z06pHil5Q
— Senator Sharon Keogan (@SenatorKeogan) May 20, 2023
Billboard Chris himself highlighted the possible impact of Hate Speech legislation, as the video continued to rack up views tonight, stating:
“This country is about to pass the most draconian hate speech law of any western nation. Almost no pushback anywhere.
“After all we have been through with authoritarian governments and abuse of police power these past few years, we should all have very little tolerance for anyone who tries to tell us what we can and can’t talk about.”
This country is about to pass the most draconian hate speech law of any western nation. Almost no pushback anywhere.
After all we have been through with authoritarian governments and abuse of police power these past few years, we should all have very little tolerance for anyone… https://t.co/81JXNorY59
— Billboard Chris 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@BillboardChris) May 20, 2023
Gript has contacted the Garda press office for comment.