4 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

Credit: John Kozachenko


Gays maintained influence on the Davie St Community Policing Centre at a Sep 22 annual general meeting. Eight board members were elected from 10 candidates at the meeting, including at least two out gay members-outgoing president Jim Deva and 2002-2003 board member Ron Strandberg. Deva expects to see an increase in bike and citizen patrols in the next year and continued expansion of the open hours at the Davie CPC, (located on the side of the Shopper’s Drug Mart) so that community members can access an “open, amenable and productive” office. The Davie CPC now serves the entire West End. Deva encourages gays and lesbians to volunteer for the bike and walking patrols by calling 604.717.2924.


Parliament passed Svend Robinson’s hate propaganda bill by a margin of 30 votes Sep 17. Bill C-250 seeks to amend the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code to add gays and lesbians to its list of protected groups. Right now, sections 318 and 319 make it a crime to advocate genocide or publicly incite hatred against people on the basis of their colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. Robinson’s bill-if it passes its next vote in the Senate-will add the words “sexual orientation” to that list. That means hate propagandists who write booklets saying things such as “all faggots should be shot” could be prosecuted. The bible and other religious books or sermons would not be criminalized, however, provided the speaker or author makes an argument, in good faith, based on a religious point of view. That defence is built right into the hate propaganda section and has been all along. It is not clear at this point how the bill would apply to words spoken from, say, public street corners or passing cars. On the one hand, inciting hatred against gays and lesbians would now be criminalized, but in the past that charge has been reserved for only hardcore hatemongers such Ernst Zundel. In fact, the whole hate propaganda section is rarely used and bares an instruction to seek approval from Canada’s Attorney General before pressing any charges. Robinson’s bill has already passed its first reading in the Senate. A vote is likely later this fall.


Vancouver’s bars, clubs and cabarets just got a new lease on their late-night closings. That is, those establishments who were originally approved for the city’s 4 am experiment in July got a chance to re-apply for an extension until November. That’s when city staff are expected to report their findings on the experiment. Until then, most trial participants should be able to keep the experiment going, says liquor licence coordinator Guy Gusdal. But he isn’t making any promises about individual bars or clubs. The city will evaluate each re-application as it comes in, he says, noting that complaint-generating establishments might get turned down.

Asked about the gay bars’ chances for re-approval, Gusdal says he hasn’t received many complaints about the Davie Village. The Odyssey, PumpJack, Fountainhead and Oasis have all re-applied; none anticipate any problems getting accepted for the extension. City staff have already granted Numbers’ 4 am extension request, as well as its separate request to join a 2 am late-night-closing experiment on Sundays.


Another phone scam seems to be making its way across Canada’s queer communities. Recent reports indicate that someone, or several people, claiming to be prominent members of the Vancouver Pride Society have been calling a handful of local establishments looking for money. One caller claimed he was Randy Atkinson and that he had just been stabbed in Seattle and needed money immediately. That caller made the mistake of calling the Fountainhead Pub, where Atkinson had just finished eating lunch. Similar calls have been reported in Calgary and parts of Nova Scotia. If you get a supposedly urgent call from a prominent member of the community who claims to be in trouble in the US, verify the information before sending any money.


Bigger and better every year. That’s the goal of Angus Praught, organizer of the second annual gay Vancouver business exposition. Building on last year’s exhibition, held in the Parkhill Hotel, Praught has added a couple of new wrinkles this year: adding a “lifestyles” component to the business fair, and inviting the Greater Seattle (gay) Business Association to participate in the Oct 4 event. This year there are at least 55 exhibitors, up from 48 last year, and Praught hopes to bring in several thousand gay consumers to check out what’s available. Check out the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, Pavillion Ballroom, from noon to 4 pm on Sat Oct 4. Free admission.


The Catholic church cancelled its contract with VanCity last week over the credit union’s “pro-homosexual” ad campaign. VanCity launched the campaign, which features gay men and lesbians, individually and in couples, a year ago to woo the gay market. Now, the church says the financial institution is promoting “agendas which are worrisome and harmful to the church and to society.” As a result, the church ordered its schools to drop out of VanCity’s long-running young investors program. But VanCity isn’t backing down. “We took a stand.

We’re expressing our values and I’m very sorry if people feel that’s not within their liking,” VanCity board member Reva Dexter told CBC. Many gays and lesbians are urging people to call VanCity and express their support and even to move their accounts to the credit union. The Vancouver Sun reported that the majority of the letters they received on the topic sided with VanCity.


Tim Stevenson’s “intolerant” past was highlighted in a Sep 20 Vancouver Sun news report about organizers rejecting the city councillor’s participation in an interfaith Muslim conference. Religion writer Douglas Todd dredged up Stevenson’s 1997 attempt (while an NDP MLA) to shut down a conference organized by anti-gay rights activists by pressuring the Renaissance Hotel to cancel their use of space. Free-speech advocates criticized Stevenson at the time and the incident undermined his recent attempt to label the Muslim conference organizers as intolerant because they didn’t want a gay city councillor as host and official city representative. Stevenson teaches comparative religions at Langara College and was the first out gay to be ordained as a minister in a major Canadian church.


Kichx Anagaat Yatx’i: Children of the Rainbow, the two-spirited multimedia performance, captured the Audience Favorite Award at this year’s Out On Screen Queer Film and Video Festival. Festival organizers announced the award Sep 16. The two-spirited performers are now planning to take their presentation to other arts festivals across Canada.


As if the first day of school isn’t hard enough. Protestors gathered outside New York’s first all-gay high school to greet students on their first day of school Sep 8. The newly expanded Harvey Milk High School attracted the attention of about a dozen demonstrators who waved signs and bibles. Meanwhile, across the street, about 250 supporters gathered to cheer the students on. Though the protest was peaceful, staff members had to escort students into the building.