2 min

Drop the charges

Bijou group will also track police abuse

VROOM VROOM. George Hislop asks what straight has ever been arrested in lovers' lane Credit: Tony Fong

Toronto’s eight bathhouses are no longer safe from police and it’s time for the gay community to take a stand, one of the city’s leading sex educators says.

“If the Bijou is not safe, then the other establishments are not safe,” Trevor Gray said at an Aug 19 City Hall news conference. “The bars are not safe, the bathhouses are not safe, either.”

Gray was part of a four-person delegation representing the newly-formed June 13 Committee demanding that sex charges against Bijou customers be withdrawn.

The committee said coppers had better cut out this raid business, too.

“We have to look at what’s happening in a city where marginalized

people are being targeted,” said Gray, a staff person at the Black Coalition For AIDS Prevention.

“I think we really need to come together and take a stand to demand

that the charges are dropped.”

June 13 (named after the date of the first of many raids against the Bijou) also vowed to form a spy versus spy network to monitor police who are monitoring queers.

There is also a promised campaign to reform “Canada’s outdated and

unfair laws governing consensual sex.”

“Every night in this city after dark – and across the country –

many, many people commit indecent acts in public places,” said George Hislop, who was himself charged in a 1978 tub sweep.

“They are not arrested, because police and communities accept that

when people seek out the condition of privacy, they are to be left alone.

“When people attempt to create a condition of privacy, that should

be respected.”

In the nights following Jun 13, Hislop said police went on

fishing expeditions, then they came back “looking for trouble” and didn’t stop until the bar was closed down.

“And in so doing,” Hislop said, “they created trouble.”

Nineteen charges have been filed against Bijou customers and one staffer.

A number of angry community meetings ensued, each growing in attendance and allegations of law-and-order hassles.

Citing that panic, June 13 also expressed “a sense of alarm” over

the $1.9-million community police action initiative – spearheaded by Downtown City Councillor Kyle Rae, who was seated in the back of the room.

“We question why the Bijou – a business that has been in existence

for the last four years – and well supported by gay and bisexual men, is now targeted,” activist Nick Mule said. “We’re insulted that such actions were taken by police at a time in which the lesbian and communities were gearing up for our annual celebrations.”

It was suggested to Hislop a number of times that queers were

asking for special rights, but the matter seemed to dissolve when answers to journalists’ questions turned to lover’s lane.

“Police come upon that action, and they might say move on. They

might even say move over.

“But does anybody in this room know anybody’s who’s been prosecuted for having sex in the back seat of a car?

“I think we’re championing the rights of all Canadians to know

clearly what they can and cannot do,” Hislop said. “Vague laws that date back to the 1890s, are archaic. They are over 100 years old.”

The June 13 Committee can be reached at (416) 920-0892.