Toronto
2 min

It’s a miracle

New chief is now all educated about homos

SHOULD WE EXECUTE THEM, SIR? Julian Fantino says posterers are criminals. Credit: Xtra files

Toronto’s new Police Chief Julian Fantino wants to improve his image in the queer community, but only so much.



“I don’t have to march [in the Pride parade] to do justice and pay homage to your community… Don’t worry about the parade, you’re doing okay.”



Fantino was the guest of honour at a Mar 13 dinner hosted by The Fraternity, a gay men’s professional and social club. The talk was a part of Fantino’s first week in office.



He spoke about his respect for the gay and lesbian business community and announced his intention to host a social at police headquarters during Pride week.



When asked point blank by an audience member if he would commit to being visible during the parade itself, Fantino demurred. Previous commitments will take him out of town in the last week of June. “I don’t feel a need to earn brownie points,” Fantino said.



Fantino is aware of his bad rep in the gay community: “Everything that has been said about me can’t be true,” he quipped. “No one is that bad.



“I didn’t always understand the significance of a Pride parade,” Fantino said. “I have been educated about historical events and now I understand why the parade is important.”



An attendee expressed fears that Fantino’s reign will usher in a new era of police raids of homo establishments reminiscent of the early 1980s.



Fantino responded: “The law is interpreted by individuals… I don’t want anybody discriminated against, but I can’t promise you what each and every officer will do… You can’t ask for immunity, do the right and lawful thing and you won’t have any trouble from us.”



City Councilor Kyle Rae was unsatisfied by this answer. “There are people on the force who see themselves as a one-man morality squad,” said Rae, alluding to the recent problems between the Bijou porn theatre and cops in Rae’s riding.



Despite a few tough questions Fantino seemed to strike a chord with Fraternity members, and received warm applause for his tough-on-crime stance.



Fantino closed his talk with a ringing indictment of graffiti and posters, referring to them as the start of decay in Toronto’s downtown core.



“These [graffiti artists] are not artistic folk,” said Fantino, “these are criminals.”



Fantino received a standing ovation.



Other queer groups have been more reluctant to jump onto the band wagon with a cop already infamous for his hard-line position on issues like immigration and prostitution.



The June 13 Committee, founded following the raids and arrests at The Bijou, recently dropped out of a process to establish a liaison committee between police and the gay and lesbian community.



In a brief private interview with Xtra, Fantino stressed his intention to forge ahead with setting up a liaison committee.



He declined to address criticisms from activists that the proposal does not include a cross-section of individuals in the community and would be elite and exclusionary.