Toronto
2 min

Where are we at?

Divisions continue to grow over communicating with cops

POSTPONED. Karen Baldwin says the next police liaison meeting's been put off. Credit: Jennifer Gillmor

Julian Fantino’s coffee klatch politics continue to divide the gay community.



The Portuguese Arco Iris is another group – one of at least three – which boycotted chief Fantino’s meet-and-greet social at a gay bar last month.



“We firmly believe in taking collective approaches to the police, and are firmly committed to the idea of solidarity – that police should deal with all of us, not just in conjunction with the more ‘palatable’

groups,” says Arco Iris’s Rui Pires.



The Apr 25 meet-and-greet was sponsored by The Fraternity, a group for gay male professionals.



The June 13 Committee and the Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights In Ontario also refused to attend.



Says Pires: “As immigrants, and as children of immigrants we know all too well what it is like to not being part of the crowd that fits in and is socially privileged. We try not to buy into this privilege, and we prefer very transparent processes – especially in view the controversial nature of the Toronto Police and the current police chief.



“We will not participate in any future meetings with the police unless they are open to community consultation around how they will happen,” says Pires.



Members of Parents, Families And Friends Of Lesbians And Gays debated whether to boycott.



“I agonized over it,” says PFLAG’s Ruby Hamilton. “I just felt it was poor timing.”



But in the end, three PFLAG volunteers went. “I hope the rest of the community will understand. The Fraternity are our kids as well…. and we’re there for all our kids!”



The Fraternity, meanwhile, isn’t sorry. Media relations coordinator Tyrell Ignatius says the event was held at the chief’s request, and calls it a success. “They like us to provide a platform,” Ignatius says of members. “And people expressed whatever they wanted to. It was a community service.”



In the meantime, the community consultation process intended to create a formal gay and lesbian liaison process with police has briefly stalled.



The meeting scheduled for the middle of May, the third in a series, has been put off to Wed, Jun 7 at 6:30pm.



“The work group hadn’t been able to conduct all of the [background] interviews it wants to before meeting again as a large group,” explains Karen Baldwin, who’s coordinating things out of the 519 Church Street Community Centre.



Baldwin is very optimistic. “I’m hoping this will lead to a very broad public discussion about whether the community wants a liaison.



“Whether we get a liaison committee or not, if it doesn’t come, if the community decides that’s not what we want or need, at least we’ll have had a discussion about issues of policing in our community.”



Fantino isn’t invited to the June meeting, but all gay men and lesbians are, says Baldwin. About 30 people went to the last one.



She adds that she didn’t attend Fantino’s coffee klatch (she never works Tuesday nights), but that some 519 board members did go.