Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said she’s received threats of bodily harm over her outspoken opposition to Quebec’s religious symbols bill.

On Thursday, Plante's office called on the Montreal police to investigate due to the severity of the threats which have come via private social media messages. She said they were often violent and sexist in tone.

“I’m always open for debate but I will not accept that because it’s not acceptable,” she said. “This is not the kind of society we want, this isn’t what we want to encourage. Freedom of speech is important but we also have to acknowledge we are talking to human beings. I’m a human being, I’m a mom, I’m a Montrealer, I’m a woman. I think people should respect that.”

Police said they have been given the messages and are investigating the people behind them.

"They investigate, they go into different networks to see if threats are being done, not just to me but other areas as well," said Plante. 

Earlier this week Plante called standing up against Bill 21 “our duty,” saying elected officials must bring forward the voices of people who are often unheard. Montreal city council unanimously passed a motion condemning the legislation.  

On Wednesday, Toronto city council passed a motion supporting the stance of the Plante administration against Bill 21.

Bill 21 bans people wearing religious symbols such as hijabs, kippahs and turbans from working in several public jobs including as teachers in the public school system, police officers, judges and numerous court positions, among others.

Members of Quebec’s religious minority communities have spoken out forcefully against the bill, saying it violates their rights and would relegate them to second class citizens.

In Quebec City, politicians of all stripes urged everyone to tone down the rhetoric.

“I think we have to be in a position to have a serene debate in the National Assembly and avoid those situations that are really terrible situations,” said Dominique Anglade, a Liberal MNA for St-Henri-Ste-Anne.

Vincent Marissal, who serves as the Quebec solidaire MNA for Rosemont, agreed.

“It's the contrary of democracy. When you go down that road, when you don't want to play with the rules in place, and express your ideas and views, that's really a problem in democracy,” he said.

Premier Francois Legault has also faced a barrage of online insults over bill 21.

“This debate has to be done respectfully and we have to be careful about any kind of violence. I'm happy to say we are in a society where we don't have much violence. We have to keep it this way,” he said.