GASTOWN BASHING TRIAL
It’s been almost two years since a group of lesbians and another woman were allegedly bashed outside a Flygirl dance at 7 Alexander St in Gastown. Now, the three young men charged in connection with the July 2001 case are finally going to trial. (They were ordered to stand trial last May, after a provincial court judge found there was enough evidence to proceed at their preliminary enquiry.) Dalvinder Khabra will now stand trial on four charges: assault, sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm, and obstructing a police officer. Najwinder Nangal will face one charge of assault causing bodily harm and another of obstructing a police officer. And Sukhdeep Khela is facing one charge of assault causing bodily harm. Their trial begins May 5 in BC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe St, at 10 am. Queers are encouraged to attend to demonstrate the community’s abhorrence of gay-bashing.
COLE FOUND GUILTY
Accused drugger-thief Sean Anthony Cole (aka Dallas) has been found guilty on one count of theft. Cole was arrested in February in connection with a series of drug-robberies against gay men. He’ll return to provincial court May 6 at 9:30 am, room 305, for sentencing on the first count. He is still facing five more counts of theft, as well as three counts of administering a toxic substance, which he is also expected to deal with on May 6. He is still in police custody.
AIDS MEMORIAL NEEDS MONEY
A planned May 25 unveiling for Vancouver’s new AIDS memorial proved too ambitious, says project chair Ed Lee. Lee announced the unveiling two weeks ago, expecting the six-week construction project to get underway immediately afterward. But the project was still $60,000 short and the Vancouver parks board won’t allow construction to begin until all the money is in place. Lee isn’t too discouraged. “We’ll put our noses to the grindstone to make sure that funding happens,” he says. To make a donation go to: www.aidsmemorial.ca
LANDMARK TRANS RULING
In a landmark case, the BC Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the government to reimburse a transsexual man for his phalloplasty procedures and compensate him for the discrimination he endured. The ruling found that the government’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) discriminated against Louis Waters, a Female-To-Male man, when it refused to cover the cost of his out-of-province penis construction in full. Waters began seeing a California specialist in 1995 when he couldn’t find anyone qualified to perform the operations in BC. Since MSP was already fully reimbursing transsexual women for their out-of-province sex reassignment surgeries, he assumed it would do the same for him. It didn’t. Instead, Waters was left with $100,000 bill and an incomplete penis. And that amounts to discrimination, the tribunal ruled Apr 14.
In denying Waters access to payment for a service readily available to trans women, MSP discriminated against him on the basis of his sex, ruled tribunal member Judy Parrack. She then ordered MSP to reimburse Waters for the procedures he has already undergone, pay for the completion of his penis, and pay him an extra $6,500 for injuring his dignity. But Parrack stopped short of ordering MSP to cover all phalloplasty operations from now on. That’s because MSP re-classified phalloplasty as experimental a few years ago, after Waters began his operations. Whether or not that classification is in itself, discriminatory is not before the tribunal, Parrack added.
LEATHER SCENE CHANGES
The Vancouver leather community elected new title holders Apr 19. Barney Hickey is now Mr Vancouver Leather 2003 and Stacy Clark is Ms Vancouver Leather 2003. Hickey is also a new member of the Knights of Malta, as is Dame Bird Moses, the first-ever female Knight. Hickey and Clark succeed Brent Covey and Pat Tucker.
In related news, Rick Hurlbut, president of the new Bent Events promotion company, says the show will go on for Mr BC Leather. Doug Gault, who has organized the Mr BC Leather contest for the last seven years through his company, Q2 Productions, postponed this year’s event in January after he had difficulty finding a suitable venue and getting funding.
Now he’s passing the torch to Hurlbut, who is hoping to re-schedule for late August. Stay tuned.
Finally, the new Canadian Leather Alliance is planning to produce Canada’s first national leather contest soon. Vancouver’s representative on the Alliance is Rob Pont, president of Western Canada Leather Pride.
STRAIGHT ALLY, ROSEMARY BROWN
It’s not commonly known that the BC NDP was once a homophobic party. In a 1974 tour of China, for example, Premier Dave Barrett congratulated the communist government for having towns without any apparent “homosexualism.” And minister of labour William King refused in 1972 to include gay rights in an amendment to the human rights act. But Rosemary Brown, the first black legislator in BC, and the MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, kept up the pressure on her own government. And she continued to speak up for gay rights, women’s equality and on visible minority issues throughout a notable public career as MLA, unsuccessful candidate for the federal NDP, and as chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Brown died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on Apr 26 at the age of 72. Activist Harry Grunsky says, ” It’s important for white queers to realize it was two straight black peoplewho really pushed for our rights-Rosemary Brown andEmery Barnes. It was the white people behind her who were freaked out about it. She was a barn burner.”
GASTOWN BASHING TRIAL