NO RAIDS HERE: VICE
The head of Vancouver’s vice squad says there are no gay bathhouse raids on the horizon here. Last month’s Calgary raid sparked fear in Vancouver’s gay community and led to rumours that this city’s gay and kink parties and clubs were next. But those are just rumours, says Insp Kash Heed, the Vancouver Police Department’s commanding officer of the vice and drug units. “We have no intention of going in and doing raids similar to what occurred in Calgary,” he says. “For us to go in and raid these places on some moralistic philosophy, that’s not going to happen under my command.”
Heed says he can’t promise police will never have to respond to complaints in the future if something dangerous happens in a gay bathhouse. But, he says, he would try to consult the gay community before sending in any officers. “I would certainly want to be as educated as I can on this,” he says. But there have been no complaints worth investigating and there are no gay bathhouse raids planned in Vancouver at this time, he reiterates.
CALGARY RALLY PLANNED
Calgary gay activists Stephen Lock and Keith Purdy are planning a rally on Jan 23 to support the men charged in last month’s bathhouse raid. Police raided Goliath’s after a two-month undercover operation and charged 13 men with being “found in” a bawdy house and two employees with “keeping” a bawdy house. Police later charged the owners and manager of Goliath’s as keepers, as well. All 18 men are scheduled to make their first appearance in Calgary’s provincial court on Jan 23. Three of the found-ins are expected to plead not guilty and fight their charges. Lock and Purdy are hoping that as many people as possible will join them on the steps of the courthouse to protest the charges and support the men appearing inside. Lock is urging all protestors to bring white towels to the rally. He and Purdy have also set up a defence fund to help the found-ins, including Lock’s partner Terry Haldane, fight their charges. (The men charged as keepers already have access to the owners’ lawyer.) The costs of defending oneself against “found-in” charges can be really high, Lock explains, and these men deserve good legal support. So far, less than $200 has been donated to the fund. People can send cheques, made payable to Lock or Purdy with a memo saying it’s for the defence fund, to:
The Goliath’s Defence Fund
c/o The Calgary Eagle Inc.
424-a 8 Ave SE
Jan 23, 9 am
On the steps of Calgary’s provincial courthouse
323 6 Ave SE
(white towels recommended)
BASHLINE MERGER MOVES FORWARD
The Centre has announced Mar 1 as the anticipated opening of its new and improved Prideline. The revamped service will include support previously offered by the Bashline, which folded a few months ago. The expanded Prideline will offer callers around BC information, support and referrals in the event of a bashing. Volunteers will get extra training on topics such as when to advise people to call 911 and what sort of information to try to remember to tell police. The Centre is also piloting a new queer victim services project. A victim service worker will now be on site at The Centre to answer questions about court procedures and offer information and emotional support on Mondays, from 1-3 pm. The BC Ministry of Public Safety, which runs the province’s victim services division, has also given the Centre a $15,000 grant to develop a training module on queer issues for victim services workers across the province.
Just weeks after Calgary police raided a gay bathhouse, their Thai counterparts raided a well-known Bangkok tub. Led by the newly appointed Deputy Interior Minister, Pracha Maleenond, police raided the Babylon Sauna-Barracks on Jan 3 and forced all of its 207 patrons to undergo urine tests. Reports say 20 tourists tested positive for drugs. A local newspaper says the raid followed a tip that the bathhouse was providing sex services for men. Police charged Babylon’s operators with operating a hotel without a licence.
Meanwhile, eight men were assassinated at a gay massage parlour in Cape Town, South Africa on Jan 19 after three suspects stormed in and shot them, execution style. Police don’t yet know if the gruesome killings were motivated by hatred or simply drug-related. Reports say the club’s owner and seven employees were killed; there were no customers in the club at the time. South Africa was the first country in the world to add equal protection for gays and lesbians to its constitution in the early 1990s.
NO RAIDS HERE: VICE