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Victories and defeats
A gay and lesbian chronology 1964-1982
To June 15, with some later developments
- January 11 / Toronto
- Owner of Richmond Street Health Emporium, one of four bathhouses raided by police February 5, 1981, pleads guilty to being keeper of common bawdyhouse (plea bargaining deal sees charges dropped against five others).
- January 20 / Toronto
- Police chief Jack Ackroyd issues statement that members of gay community are entitled to "same rights, respect, service and protection as all citizens" and that gay people are "legitimate members of the community." Community leaders call statement evasive, claim it does not recognize legitimacy of the community.
- February 6 / Toronto
- John Damien, racing steward fired from Ontario Racing Commission for being gay (see February 6, 1975), marks anniversary of fight to have case heard in court. Legal manoeuvres on part of racing commission officials Damien is suing have held off civil trial for seven years.
[The Body Politic ran many "anniversary" pieces on the Damien case in February issues, the last full one in 1985. In its Feb 1987 (and final) issue it reported his death, at age 53, of pancreatic cancer, Dec 24, 1986. Damien's wrongful dismissal suits against four officials had been resolved out of court two or three years before, with a $50,000 settlement, but the agreement had prevented him receiving the money or revealing the story until final resolution at civil trial -- a trial that never took place. Damien's death came only 22 days after amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code which, had they been in place in Feb 1975, would have saved him his long legal battle -- and his job.]
- February 6 / Toronto
- Anniversary demonstration commemorates police raids on bathhouses (see February 5, 1981), draws attention to Operation Soap, large-scale police investigation into "criminal activity in the gay community."
- March 10 / Edmonton
- GATE representatives meet with full Alberta Human Rights Commission to ask for inclusion of sexual orientation in Alberta Human Right Protection Act.
[Alberta's legislation was called the Individual Rights Protection Act.]
- March 26 / Toronto
- Provincial Court judge finds owners of Back Door Gym, raided by police June 16, 1981, guilty of keeping common bawdyhouse and fines him $3,000. Two others given conditional discharges.
- April 21 / Toronto
- Metro Toronto Police Morality Squad officers seize two magazines, charge assistant manager Kevin Orr of Glad Day Bookshop with "possession of obscene material for purpose of resale."
- May 7 / Toronto
- Morality Squad officers appear at The Body Politic office with search warrant, leave empty-handed after brief search (see December 30, 1977).
- May 12 / Toronto
- Police charge all nine members of TBP editorial collective with publishing obscene material, related to "Lust with a very proper stranger," article on etiquette of fist-fucking in April issue.
- May 31 / Toronto
- The Body Politic and three officers of Pink Triangle Press go on trial in Provincial Court a second time to face charges of using the mails to transmit immoral and indecent material (see January 5, 1978 and February 29, 1980).
- June 2 / Toronto
- Full page advocacy ad, containing over 1,400 names in support of repeal of bawdyhouse laws, appears in Globe and Mail. Organized by Right to Privacy Committee.
- June 15 / Toronto
- Provincial Court judge Thomas Mercer acquits Pink Triangle Press and its officers of immorality / indecency charges a second time (see February 14, 1979).
Some later developments
"Victories and defeats" ended there, but many of the stories it traced did not. Further details on those immediately above can be found in a draft chronology, called The Trials of The Body Politic but covering other trials of the time as well, to early 1985. In brief:
For some other follow-up, see a separate document charting the fate of demands made at Canada's first major gay demonstration, on Aug 28, 1971: What we demanded; What we got. This also covers events before 1982, particularly in relation to: Criminal Code reform; immigration; the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP; and efforts to secure federal protection against discrimination, in the Canadian Human Rights Act, 1977, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982. It has links to a background document with summaries of more than 170 related stories in The Body Politic and Xtra, from 1974 to 1997.
- Judge Mercer's June 15, 1982 acquittal in the second Men Loving Boys Loving Men trial was appealed by the Crown. After long delays, that appeal was rejected in County Court Sep 15, 1983. The Crown had 30 days to challenge the ruling but did not, ending the case for good -- and in final victory for The Body Politic -- on Oct 15, 1983.
- May 12, 1982 charges based on Lust with a Very Proper Stranger went to trial Nov 1, 1982. After hearing only a few hours of testimony the judge -- Thomas Mercer again -- acquitted the entire collective and the Press the same day. The Crown did not appeal.
- Last of the material seized by the police in the Dec 30, 1977 raid was returned to The Body Politic only on Apr 15, 1985.
- April 21, 1982 charges against Kevin Orr at Glad Day Books came to trial Jan 28, 1983 (Kevin's 21st birthday). He was found guilty Mar 4. The defence launched an appeal, heard Feb 20, 1984. On Mar 30, 1984 the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned Orr's conviction -- and ordered a new trial. But that retrial never took place: police failed to find Kevin to serve him with a subpoena.
- Most of those charged in the Oct 1977 Truxx / Le Mystique raid did not come to trial until Dec 14, 1982 -- when 80 of them who had cooperated in a common defence were acquitted. In its Apr 1983 issue, The Body Politic reported that, of the 450 men charged as found-ins in Montreal in 1977 and in the 1981 Toronto bath raids, 87 percent had been acquitted at trial. Thirty-six others, only 19 of whom pleaded guilty, received absolute or conditional discharges. Rapid and sustained community action -- by the Comité de soutien aux accusés de Truxx in Montreal and Toronto's Right to Privacy Committee -- had paid off.
- Toronto's last raid of the 1980s came on Apr 20, 1983, at the Back Door Gym and Sauna, with 17 men charged. More than 1,000 people demonstrated three nights later (as we seemed to have done continuously since Feb 1981).
- Conspiracy charges laid against George Hislop, Peter Maloney, and three others on Apr 21, 1981, in connection with the Feb 5 Toronto raids, were settled by plea-bargained fines, without trial, on Sep 24, 1984. The warrant used in the 1983 Back Door raid was quashed Oct 3, 1984; a plea bargain also ended that case -- reportedly the last of the lot -- on Feb 7, 1985.
- On Jun 2, 1984 at the Montreal bar Bud's, eight men were charged as bawdyhouse keepers, 122 as found-ins, and another 33 with gross indecency. By early 1985 a defence committee set up by the ADGQ had attracted only 36 of the accused; 27 others had pleaded guilty and were fined; 78 had pleaded not guilty. Trials continued into 1985 (though I have been unable to locate final results).
- The bawdyhouse laws remain on the books. In Feb 1994 Xtra reported a raid on a Montreal bar complex, with 175 people charged as found-ins. In Toronto, despite police / gay community relations much improved since the 1980s, morality officers charged 19 men as keepers, inmates or found-ins at Remington's, a gay strip club, on Feb 9, 1996. Some of the accused were also charged with giving an "indecent theatrical performance." The raid followed closely on a court decision banning "lap-dancing" -- based on cases in heterosexual clubs. The action was chided (even by police brass) as a bad example of now- ascendant concepts of "community- based" policing, but the charges remained in effect. As of Jun 5, 1997, they have yet to come to trial.
[The Trials of The Body Politic]
(In archived website on the 1995-1996 Gerald Hannon Affair)
[What we demanded; What we got]
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