Vancouver
3 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

GONE ALREADY. Steve Rai is leaving his post just over a year after starting at the Davie Street community policing centre. His boss, Insp Dave Jones, will not commit to replacing him with a lesbian or gay cop. Credit: Robin Perelle

YOUR OLYMPIC SAY

City hall is asking what queers think of the Olympic bid. A mayor’s forum on the 2010 Olympics has been scheduled specifically for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Mayor Larry Campbell and city councillors will be in attendance to hear the community’s opinions. The consultation represents the new COPE civic government’s willingness to recognize that there is a gay and lesbian community in Vancouver. There are informal suggestions that the gay community should get something in exchange for its support of the bid. One suggestion making the rounds is that the bid committee could fund a needs assessment study for an enhanced Gay and Lesbian centre. The 2010 Olympics forum will take Mon, Feb 10 at 7 pm at Sugar Daddy’s, 1262 Davie St.



DAVIE CPC LOSES RAI

Const Steve Rai is leaving the Davie Community Policing Centre (CPC). Rai, who only joined the CPC a year ago, is being transferred to another district. Though straight, Rai demonstrated a refreshing willingness to work with the gay community surrounding the CPC and listen to its needs. Insp Dave Jones, the commanding officer in the West End, says whoever replaces Rai will also have to work with the gay community, since gay issues “are a big component of that office.” But Jones won’t say who will be replacing Rai, nor whether the new officer is queer. He will say that he invited all gay and lesbian officers on the force to apply for the position.



Meanwhile, Jones has also appointed Det Roz Shakespeare to be the Vancouver Police Department’s first, full-time LGTB Program Coordinator. Shakespeare, who made headlines several years ago as the first transsexual officer to transition on the force, will also be attached to the Davie CPC, but will devote herself solely to queer issues. She has already begun working with the Vancouver school board to address homophobia in its classrooms, and is helping the gay safety committee and the Centre prepare the expanded Prideline’s training module on gay-bashing.



COUNTING MORE QUEERS

Statistics Canada is finally going to start counting individual homos in this country. While the agency did bow to community pressure and add a box for same-sex couples to check off in last year’s census, it made no effort to count non-coupled queers. The resulting numbers, boasting 34,200 same-sex couples throughout Canada, left a lot of gays and lesbians out of the picture.



As lesbian law prof Brenda Cossman said at the time, the data simply played out of a larger debate, both within the gay community and society as a whole, about the privileging of relationships. Now that debate is about to change. A Stats Can spokesperson told the National Post on Jan 29 that it’s ready to add another question to its roster: “Do you consider yourself to be heterosexual, homosexual, that is lesbian or gay, or bisexual?” Rather than waiting for the next census to come around, Stats Can will start floating the question immediately in its Canadian Community Health Study, a biannual phone survey of 130,000 Canadians. The study began in January and will run until the end of the year.



MARRIAGE UPDATE

Belgium became the second country in the world to grant same-sex couples equal marriage rights on Jan 31. The Netherlands paved the way in April 2001. Closer to home, the parliamentary committee on same-sex marriage has begun its hearings to determine the best course of action for Canadians. Options on the table include extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples; maintaining the status quo (with the possible addition of a separate partnership registry for queers); and eliminating marriage legislation altogether and replacing it with personal ceremonies and equal partnership registries for everyone.



EPIDEMIC HITS LA GAYS

A skin infection spreading through the gay community of Los Angeles is reaching epidemic proportions. Doctors say the painful infection is the result of a drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and is affecting both HIV-positive and -negative men. The infection is recognizable by its nasty boils, deep abscesses and widespread inflammations, and does not respond to common antibiotics. Doctors don’t know exactly how it’s transmitted but say it seems to spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact, including sex. They’re warning the gay community to use caution in warm, moist environments such as steam rooms. The disease is not fatal but the infection can take up to a month to clear up with the appropriate antibiotics and may require hospitalization. Doctors say it can be fatal if left untreated.



GAY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Urban gay men are just as likely as straight women to be abused by their partners, a new study shows. The study out of Georgetown University in Washington marks the first comprehensive look at violence in same-sex couples. And the results may surprise some people: one out of every five gay men get battered by their partners, and HIV-positive men are even more likely to be abused. “This study shatters the myth that men are able to protect themselves from violence perpetuated by other men,” says Michael Relf, the lead professor on the study. “We now know that domestic violence is an equal opportunity epidemic.” Researchers also found that battered gay men lack support services, such as shelters trained in gay issues. The findings are based on phone interviews with almost 3,000 gays, bisexuals and men-who-sometimes-have-sex-with-men in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.