"The law is on our side."
Just over a dozen bare-chested protestors took to Mount Royal on Sunday afternoon calling for gender equality when it comes to going topless. They set up near Tam-Tams with a sign reading "Free the Titties." The protest was organized in response to an incident last month in Quebec City when a young woman was allegedly confronted by multiple police officers for having her breasts uncovered in a public park.
Éloÿse Paquet Poisson described the experience in a Facebook post: "It was a gorgeous hot sunny day. There were a lot of bare-chested dudes in the park… I wanted to get some sun and cool off my under-boob."
Soon after she took off her top, which is legal for women to do in Quebec, a police officer told her to get dressed. When she refused, she said more officers came over.
Poisson described feeling scared as five officers insisted she cover up but said she asserted her rights. The police left without fining her but said they were justified in making sure that she wasn't doing "anything sexual."
After sharing her story, Poisson received strong public support, including solidarity protests planned in both Montreal and Quebec City.
"We all know that the law is on our side, it's people's minds that we're hoping to change. Specifically, those who see women as nothing other than sex objects," Montreal protest organizer Alice Lacroix said in a Facebook video about the event.
"It is not considered indecent for a woman to be topless. However, when you are topless, certain acts that wouldn't be indecent fully dressed might become a bit more questionable, like making out with someone for 10 minutes or twerking."
While nearly 300 people responded to the event on social media, a core group of around 15 supporters attended the protest.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.