An examination of Canadian law has led to a shocking discovery. It now appears that a new form of SARS has spread to afflict nearly every federal politician and possibly most Canadians. That’s right, SARS: Serious Aversion to Run-of-the-mill Sex.
What else to make of all the silly old sex laws in our Criminal Code? It’s still illegal, for instance, to have anal sex with more than two people present. Or to have sex in a bathhouse or sex club outside of a private room. And that’s just for starters.
SARS remains a mystery illness, but we believe it’s spread through exposure to bad laws. Xtra West is committed to eradicating the disease. Xtra West and its sister papers in Toronto and Ottawa have launched a campaign to repeal or revise a selection of Criminal Code sections which outlaw consensual sex between adults. You can read the stories as they’re posted on Xtra.ca.
We’re focussing on real run-of-the-mill sex that’s still prohibited in Canada. There is no need for big debates or royal commissions.
We’ve got four specific recommendations. Repeal the anal sex laws. Repeal three sections dealing with indecent exhibitions and performances. Reform the indecent acts law. And remove the indecency sections from the bawdy house laws.
For the moment, we’re passing on issues of blatantly public sex (on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, for instance, as opposed to behind a bush in a park). And we’re passing on laws dealing with prostitution and youth sexuality. These laws are not likely to change quickly, partly because they are more controversial and partly because they are more complex.
Xtra believes that sex is a basic human activity which is vastly over-regulated. We believe that prostitution should not be illegal, and that youth should be free to explore their sexuality without unwanted interference from adults, be they bothersome predators or shame-spewing authority figures. But these are issues we expect to be discussed and debated, in Xtra and elsewhere, for some time before achieving progressive legal reform.
Most urban homosexuals feel relatively footloose and fancy free when it comes to recreational sex. But the sex laws are still enforced. In fact, it was the raid on a Calgary bathhouse in December which prompted us to move on legal reform. These laws waste our time and money. They cause significant personal distress. They discriminate against us. They are unjust.
Politicians are tripping over each other to glad-hand the homos. Just a few weeks ago, three national party leaders and all three Liberal leadership contenders professed varying levels of support for gay marriage, an issue which raises complicated questions about the state’s rightful role in religious traditions and our private relationships. Let’s put it to these same leaders and hopefuls to support the much simpler task of reforming our sex laws.
We have friends in the House of Commons, friends we’ve helped elect, some of whom are part of the Liberal government. In particular, these reforms represent an opportunity for Hedy Fry and Bill Graham, who represent two of the country’s largest gay ridings, to support their constituents.
We’ll be asking various MPs, as well as groups like Egale Canada, the national lobby organization, to make these reforms happen quickly.
SARS should be of special interest to foreign affairs minister Graham, as the disease ravages Canada’s reputation internationally.
There’s been much talk in the media lately of Canada’s diminishing role in world affairs. We’ve ceased to be a strong voice on international matters of social justice-or so the argument goes.
But Canada has another problem. To outsiders, we’re not sexy. And despite the best efforts of our Quebecois brothers and sisters, non-Canadians often see us as pinched-mouthed, paternalistic, tut-tutting prudes. Frankly, we deserve the label. Despite one of the world’s most open immigration policies, our politicians force upon us a Canada envisioned as an anachronistic, provincial facsimile of Victorian England. Their bad sex laws cast a pall over the entire nation.
* David Walberg is the publisher of Xtra, Xtra West’s sister paper in Toronto.