CANADA

Straight talk in Gay Town

WARREN GERARD February 23 1981
CANADA

Straight talk in Gay Town

WARREN GERARD February 23 1981

Straight talk in Gay Town

Ontario

Amid shouts of “Nazi Tories” and “Conservative sham,” the temporary and uneasy truce between Toronto’s homosexual community and the police department has abruptly ended, and by last week a raid on four bathhouses involving 286 arrests was even becoming an issue in the provincial election set for March 19.

About 150 policemen, some carrying crowbars and hammers, raided the bathhouses late one evening a fortnight ago, breaking down doors to locked cubicles, arresting naked and towel-clad customers. Police Chief Jack Ackroyd defended the raids on the grounds that a six-month undercover operation had produced evidence that prostitution was taking place at the bathhouses— but none of those arrested was charged with soliciting. Twenty were charged with keeping a common bawdy house, 255 were charged as found-ins and 11 others were variously accused of assault, drug offences and buggery. It was the largest number of arrests in a single police operation since the October Crisis arrests in 1970.

The homosexual community raged and the following day 1,500 people demonstrated on Yonge Street in Toronto’s gay district, then marched on a police station, arms upraised, chanting “Sieg Heil!” Homosexual spokesmen likened themselves to Jews in Nazi Germany, and Richard Brown, president of a homosexual businessmen’s association, said: “If we have ever needed any evidence as to what the intentions of the police department of this city toward minorities are, we have seen it.”

The aftermath of the raid took on political overtones, although both Ackroyd and Premier William Davis denied that any political motivation was involved. However, Peter Maloney, a 35year-old law student and spokesman for homosexuals, promptly announced he would seek the Liberal nomination in the downtown Toronto riding of St. George. He had run in the same riding in 1971 (and lost by 8,000 votes), but last week the nomination went instead to Bruce McLeod, the 52-year-old former

moderator of the United Church of Canada. The picture was muddied the next day when George Hislop, 55, the founder of the now-defunct Community Homophile Association of Toronto, announced that he would run as an independent candidate in St. George. Hislop was soundly beaten as an aldermanic candidate in last November’s municipal election along with the city’s former mayor, John Sewell, who had endorsed Hislop’s candidacy. It was Sewell’s support of Hislop and his opposition to police actions involving minorities that may have cost him the mayoralty.

With few exceptions, Toronto’s politicians stood behind the police, and Metropolitan Chairman Paul Godfrey said demands for a provincial inquiry “show, in my opinion, a lack of confidence in the chief.” The Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission was equally adamant and, amidst pro-gay howls, Chair-

man Phil Givens announced that Ontario Attorney-General Roy McMurtry had refused a request by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for an inquiry into the raids. Givens, who left the meeting through a back door, defended the police department, saying : “Four Crown attorneys were consulted. These were legitimate proceedings that were taken.”

Meanwhile, Hislop and four other men still face charges of keeping a common bawdy house laid after a December, 1978, police raid on The Barracksone of the bathhouses hit by the cops in the latest fortissimo between the boys in blue and the boys in the band.

WARREN GERARD