2 min

The get-the-gays decade

Dec 30, 1977. Toronto police raid the offices of The Body Politic (TBP), seize subscription lists and much else; soon after, they charge the paper and its corporate officers with “use of the mails for the purpose of transmitting indecent, immoral or scurrilous matter.”

Dec 9, 1978. Police raid the Barracks bathhouse in Toronto, charge 23 men as found-ins, five as keepers of a common bawdy house.

Dec 18, 1978. A police sergeant calls three school boards in Toronto and informs them that six teachers in their employ were arrested in the Barracks raid.

Feb 14, 1979. TBP is acquitted at trial.

Mar 6, 1979. McMurtry’s office appeals the acquittal.

Mar 28, 1979. Toronto police chief and police association president have to issue apologies after an article entitled The Homosexual Fad appears in police association newsletter.

Jun 6, 1979. Police raid Toronto teacher Don Franco’s home after an undercover officer answers Franco’s personal ad. He is charged with keeping a common bawdy house solely because he occasionally invites men over for sex. It’s a clear act of revenge — Franco had embarrassed the police by making a public issue of their having called his school board in the wake of his arrest at the Barracks (see Dec 18, above).

Aug 20-22, 1979. Gay Sit-in for Justice in McMurtry’s office “to support demands of the Toronto gay community endorsed at various mass meetings.” McMurtry refuses to meet, though does instruct his staff to supply demonstrators with coffee, tea and doughnuts.

Oct 11, 1979. Police raid Toronto’s Hot Tub Club, charge 40 men as found-ins.

Dec 27, 1979. Judge Sydney Harris orders Crown to return material seized in the police raid on TBP. The Crown appeals.

Feb 7 and 8, 1980. Judge George Ferguson hears Crown appeal of TBP acquittal, and on Feb 29 sends TBP back to court for a second trial.

Feb 5, 1981. Toronto police raid four gay baths, charge 286 men as found-ins, 20 as keepers.

Mar 30, 1981. Trial begins for alleged keepers charged in the raid on the Barracks.

Apr 25, 1981. Six people, including community leader George Hislop and activist Peter Maloney, are charged with conspiracy to obtain the proceeds of crime in connection to the February raids.

Jun 16, 1981. Police raid Toronto’s Back Door Gym and Sauna and the International Steam Baths, charge 21 men as found-ins or keepers. Total charged since Feb 5
now reaches 337.

Jun 20, 1981. A demonstration protesting the Jun 16 raids is met with violence from queerbashers and the police in Toronto.

Jul 13, 1981. Since both the police commission and McMurtry’s office have stonewalled on demands for a public inquiry, Toronto city council appoints Arnold Bruner to look into police/gay community relations.

Apr 21, 1982. Police raid Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, charge assistant manager Kevin Orr with “possession of obscene material for purposes of resale.”

May 7, 1982. Police arrive at TBP office with a search warrant, but leave empty-handed.

May 12, 1982. Police charge all nine members of the paper’s editorial collective with obscenity, for an article on fisting called “Lust with a very proper stranger.”

May 31, 1982. TBP and its officers are tried a second time on the first set of charges (“indecency, immorality and scurrility”). This trial results in a second acquittal on Jun 15, 1982. McMurtry’s office will appeal this acquittal as well.