Vancouver
3 min

In Brief

Vancouver and national news

INSP JONES GOES TO OTTAWA: Insp Dave Jones testified on behalf of Svend Robinson's proposed Criminal Code amendment giving Credit: Robin Perelle

COLE GOES TO JAIL



Sean Anthony Cole (aka Dallas) is going back to jail. Police arrested the 37-year-old in February after he picked up, drugged, then robbed a series of gay men. Last week, Cole pleaded guilty to robbing five men and administering a toxic substance to three of them. The judge sentenced him to two and a half years in jail for the drug counts, and two years for the thefts, to be served concurrently (that is, at the same time; meaning he’ll serve two and half years maximum). This isn’t the first time Cole has been sentenced to jail for preying on gay men. Police arrested him three years ago after he committed a similar string of drug-robberies between 1998 and 2000. Cole pleaded guilty that time, as well, and served about nine months in jail for three counts of theft, while the Crown stayed two additional drug charges. This time, the Crown was able to make its theft and drug charges stick. Michael Marks, one of the men Cole drugged and robbed shortly before his arrest in February, says he’s happy with the outcome. “It means the West End is going to be safe [from Cole] for another two years,” he says.



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VPD BACKS SVEND



Vancouver police Insp Dave Jones went to Ottawa last week to lend his support to Svend Robinson’s hate propaganda bill. The NDP MP is still trying to add protection for gays and lesbians to sections 318-319 of the Criminal Code. Right now, the code says it’s a crime to make public statements inciting hatred against, or promoting the genocide of, any identifiable group based on its colour, race, religion, or ethnic origin. Sexual orientation isn’t on the list. That’s what Robinson wants to change, but he’s worried his bill won’t make it past the justice committee because of all the opposition it’s facing. Robinson is hoping Jones’ presentation, backed by the Canadian associations of police chiefs and police boards, will make the difference by getting Liberals on board. He is still urging everyone who supports the bill to write their MPs immediately.



MP Hedy Fry: 604.666.0135



MP Svend Robinson: 604.299.4022



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BC MARRIAGE APPEAL WINS



BC’s Court of Appeal has given the federal government a little over a year to write same-sex couples into its marriage laws. As it stands now, the definition of marriage, which limits the union to one man and one woman, violates the Charter and can’t be justified, a panel of three appeal court judges ruled May 1. The legal definition of marriage should say “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,” writes Justice Jo-Ann Prowse. Justice Kenneth Mackenzie (in an about-face since his last big gay case, when he backed the Surrey school board in its bid to ban gay-friendly books) backs her up. The original trial judge failed to give “adequate weight to the evolution of societal views with respect to homosexuality,” he writes. “In my view, this evolution cannot be ignored.



Civil marriage should adapt to contemporary notions of marriage as an institution in a society which recognizes the rights of homosexual persons to non-discriminatory treatment.”



The judges’ ruling overturns an earlier BC Supreme Court finding upholding the exclusively heterosexual claim to marriage. In the last year, courts in Ontario and Quebec have also ruled in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples; Ontario ordered the government to change its marriage laws, too. In order to avoid legal confusion, BC’s court of appeal has matched its deadline to Ontario’s and given the federal government until July 2004 to change its laws. The government’s justice committee is expected to present its suggestions on marriage soon.



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SUGAR DADDY’S



Concerned Davie Villagers needn’t lose sleep over the closed doors at Sugar Daddy’s. The Davie St café-turned-pub/café is just undergoing some renovations, says owner Phil Moon, who also owns Numbers, the Oasis and a portion of the Fountainhead Pub. Moon is keeping his cards close to his chest about his latest acquisition’s intended new look, but the scuttlebutt is Sugar Daddy’s will soon be re-born as a neighbourhood sports bar. Moon says he’s hoping to re-open by the end of May.