Vancouver
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In brief

Vancouver & national news

IN MEMORIAM. About 150 people gathered to light the Dr Peter Centre's giant globe in recognition of everyone who died of AIDS this World AIDS Day. "It was quite emotional," says the centre's director, Maxine Davis. Credit: courtesy of Dr Peter Centre

DENMAN ST BASHING

A group of eight or nine men in a white pick-up truck allegedly assaulted two men on Denman St early Sat morning, police say. The attack took place at 5 am on Dec 6 in the 1100-block of Denman, near Pendrell. It began when the pick-up’s occupants allegedly approached the two men and hurled homophobic slurs at them. When the men replied, the occupants allegedly jumped out of their truck and attacked. One suspect, described as a dark-skinned man with short, curly dark hair in his early 20s, allegedly knocked one of the victims to the ground. Witnesses say another suspect then kicked the victim in the head. The second suspect is described as a muscular Asian man with short, spiky black hair, also in his early 20s. The 34-year-old victim was treated in hospital for facial injuries. The other victim, 39, received cuts to his hands but was not seriously injured, police say. After the incident, some of the suspects jumped back into their truck, while others hailed a cab and fled. Const Sarah Bloor, of the Vancouver Police Department, says police are “absolutely” taking the incident seriously and investigating the anti-gay comments allegedly made at the scene. “It’s not something that we accept as a community,” Bloor says.



Anyone with any information is urged to call the VPD’s major crime section, now investigating the case, at 604.717.2541. Or call CrimeStoppers at 604.669.TIPS.



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GOLIATH’S CASE INCHES FORWARD

The men accused of keeping a common bawdyhouse in last year’s Calgary bathhouse raid will have to wait another four months before their trial begins. Their trial was supposed to start last month but got adjourned when Crown Prosecutor David Torske said he hadn’t received all the necessary disclosure from Calgary police. The lawyers returned to court Dec 2 to set a new trial date. The trial is now scheduled to begin Apr 1 and should run for six days.



Meanwhile, Terry Haldane, who was charged with being found in a bawdyhouse in the same bathhouse raid, will have to wait even longer for his day in court. His team of lawyers, led by well-known constitutional lawyer Joe Arvay, intends to argue that the bawdyhouse section of the Criminal Code violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms-and should be struck down. Haldane’s trial is now scheduled to begin Oct 18, 2004 and run for two weeks.



“It’s a relief to have a trial date set,” Haldane says. “Now I don’t have to come back for ten and a half months. I don’t have to let it occupy every day of my life.



“But it’ll be almost two years since the raid by then,” he notes.



To contribute to the Goliath’s defence fund, send a cheque to Stephen Lock (trustee), at The Goliath’s Defence Fund; c/o The Calgary Eagle; 424-a 8th Ave SE; Calgary, AB; T2G 0L7. Write “To be held in trust for the Goliath’s Defence Fund” in the memo section.



-Amy Steele



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PREDATOR ON THE LOOSE?

Safety committee co-founder Jim Deva is alarmed. He thinks that whoever killed Edgar Leonardo may come after another gay man next. Leonardo, who apparently liked to cruise after midnight at an adult theatre on Main St and at English Bay, was found dead in his Comox St apartment Aug 27. Police have not released many details about their investigation into his death. But the lead investigator says he doesn’t think there’s a predator on the loose. Though Det Richard Akin says Leonardo may have been killed by a bad date, he says there’s no evidence to suggest that the killer might strike again. “The evidence doesn’t support that theory,” he says, adding that if did think the community was at risk “in any way, shape or form” he’d issue a public warning immediately. Akin says he knows about Leonardo’s cruising preferences and has factored that into his potential predator assessment. He is, however, still looking for more information about the night Leonardo died. “I welcome tips,” he says, asking, once again, for the community’s help. “We don’t take anything lightly and I respond quite well to suggestions,” Akin adds.



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STEVENSON TO THE RESCUE

Bar patrons in the downtown core can thank councillor Tim Stevenson for single-handedly putting the closing-time issue back on council’s agenda. Three weeks ago, Stevenson’s colleague, Peter Ladner, unexpectedly put a wrench in the 4 am experiment when he convinced council to limit some of the participating bars’ closing time. Instead of allowing all the 4 am participants to keep closing at 4 am until the end of the trial period in June, Ladner suggested that only those bars who were originally licensed to close at 2 am get the full extension. Stevenson, council’s small business and gay rep, didn’t like it. So, last week, he lobbied his colleagues and led all but one to first rescind the original decision and then replace it with a new one allowing all the participating downtown bars to close at 4 am until the end of the trial.



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BENCHES NOT BALL FIELDS

About 17 people, representing a variety of West End groups, got together Nov 27 to discuss the state of Nelson Park and the direction they’d like it to take. The participants are part of a new, community-based (and parks board-supported) coalition formed to re-design the park-and address the neighbourhood’s growing concerns about alleged drug dealers and street people using the park. Many West End gays feel a special connection to Nelson Park. They see it as an important gathering place where people can sit around and talk to their neighbours. It’s a friendly, passive park, city planner and former councillor Alan Herbert recently told Xtra West. A passive park means a park full of benches and places to socialize, Herbert explains-as opposed to a park full of ball fields. Passivity seems to rank high on the new coalition’s wish list, too. So does green space. Participants also discussed the possibility of putting in fountains and bringing more special events to the park. “I see a park where we can fit in everybody quite nicely,” says Blair Petrie, who spearheaded the Mole Hill housing project next door. The coalition will meet again Dec 11, at 7 pm, in the parks board office, at 2099 Beach Ave. For more information call Bob Hindley at 604.257.8331.



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MASSACHUSETTS MARRIAGE

The same-sex marriage bug spread south of the border three weeks ago, when a Massachusetts court fell into step behind Ontario, BC and Quebec. Depriving homosexuals of the right to marry violates this state’s constitution, the Massachusetts supreme court ruled Nov 18 in a 4-3 decision, closely echoing the recent Canadian decisions. “The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens,” wrote Chief Justice Margaret Marshall for the majority. The court gave the Massachusetts government 180 days to amend its legislation accordingly. No word yet on whether the state government plans to appeal. But some Republicans in the US Congress have already introduced legislation to fight the ruling nationally. Observers predict a long legal battle ahead.



Meanwhile, north of the 49th parallel, it is already legal for same-sex couples to tie the knot in both BC and Ontario, and the Canadian government is still contemplating changing the law across the country. Former Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien sent a draft of the new legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada earlier this year in search of advice. The court is expected to rule on Chr├ętien’s non-binding marriage question sometime this spring. It’s anybody’s guess whether new Prime Minister Paul Martin will go along with that plan or plot an entirely new direction.