3AM CLOSINGS COMING
Two hours forward, one hour back. After a year of trials and tribulations, Vancouver’s 4 am bar-closing-experiment looks like it’s going to draw to a 3 am close next month. Councillor Tim Stevenson has asked city staff to prepare recommendations for rolling the 4 am experiment back by one hour, starting Jun 1 when the current 4 am licences run out. Depending on a bar’s licence, that’s still at least one hour later than the bars could close before this experiment began last year, Stevenson points out, adding that city hall is not imposing anything on the bars. On the contrary, he says, it was the bars’ idea to close an hour earlier. Council has been working in conjunction with BarWatch (the organization representing 21 Vancouver bars and clubs) to find a way to curb the closing-time street brawls on Granville St, Stevenson explains. He’s hoping the one-hour rollback will deter suburban partiers who may be reluctant to come all the way downtown for just one extra hour of drinking.
After some initial dissention within its ranks, BarWatch members have indeed volunteered to cut their hours back to 3 am right away-without even waiting for city hall’s directive. That means Davie St’s PumpJack Pub and Numbers cabaret will now close at 3 am starting this weekend. The Odyssey, which is not a BarWatch member, plans to keep closing at 4 am until further notice.
When asked if the gay bars are being penalized for the straight bars’ brawls, PumpJack co-owner Steve Bauer acknowledges that there haven’t been any problems on Davie St. But the PumpJack is committed to working with BarWatch to solve the Granville St problem, he says. Stevenson agrees that the gay bars have been problem free, but says he can’t make different rules for different bars. “There is no way that you can siphon off one group,” he says. But, he adds, the bars will be allowed to apply for temporary 4 am extensions for special events such as Pride. Extensions are handed out on the basis of each bar’s record, he explains, so the “gay bars will obviously be looked on favourably.”
DALLAS GETS VICTORIA DAY-PAROLE
Sean Anthony Cole (aka Dallas) was granted six months of day parole in Victoria Apr 6 after serving sentence for drugging and robbing Vancouver gay men. Cole was denied his request for full parole.
PumpJack bartender Michael Marks made a presentation to the parole board requesting that Cole be kept as far away from Davie St as possible. He got his wish: Cole is not allowed anywhere in Vancouver unless accompanied by a person previously approved by his parole officer. The parole board also imposed an extensive list of conditions, including counselling, abstinence from alcohol, drugs and gambling, avoiding people involved in criminal activity and avoiding direct and indirect contact with victims of his offence. The parole board pointed to his extensive criminal history of property, drug and breach convictions and noted he has previously been convicted of a crime similar to his recent drugging-and-robbing spree.
“I was quite pleased with the outcome,” said Marks. “Victoria is smaller. It’s easier to keep track of him there. He’s under very very close supervision.”
Cole was convicted in May 2003 to two and a half years in prison for drugging and robbing gay men.
FEDS BACK MARRIAGE
It’s official: the federal government plans to support same-sex marriage when it addresses the Supreme Court of Canada this fall. According to Globe and Mail reporter Kirk Makin, the government submitted a brief to the court last month saying it thinks it would be “profoundly unfair and out of step with the times to deny [same-sex] unions legal recognition.” Justice Minister Irwin Cotler submitted the brief in preparation for the court’s hearing on the legalities of same-sex marriage this fall. The government has asked the court for advice on whether or not to extend marriage rights to queer couples.
In related news, the Globe and Mail reported Apr 5 that the government of Nova Scotia has announced its support for same-sex marriage, saying it will back the federal government if the government chooses to legalize it.
QUICK HIV TEST
A new HIV test approved last month in the US produces results in just 20 minutes. The test is called OraQuick HIV and it uses saliva rather than blood to test for the virus. Like the traditional blood tests, it too looks for antibodies to see if the body is fighting the virus. While some HIV specialists are hailing the faster results as a potential incentive for more people to get tested, some are also concerned with the test’s accuracy. Other fast HIV tests have been recalled in recent years after they failed to detect HIV. OraQuick is not available in Canada.
San Francisco researchers recently detected a drug-resistant strain of syphilis in gay men. Health officials there say they documented eight cases of syphilis in gay men that were resistant to azithromycin, one of three drugs commonly used to treat the disease. The men were later successfully treated with doxycycline or penicillin. But in light of the study’s findings, at least one San Francisco clinic has now dropped azithromycin from its treatment options in most cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Five of the eight men documented were also HIV-positive.
3AM CLOSINGS COMING