The Toronto gay bath house raids, 1981

16242ga

Police officers stand on the steps of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto in the early hours of Feb. 7, 1981 after gay rights demonstrators marched there in protest of the arrests on Feb. 5, 1981 of 253 men in four city steam baths | The Canadian Press/UPC/Gary Hershorn | 16242ga

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders made a historic apology today for raids on four gay bathhouses in the Canadian city that took place 35 years ago. The events caused activists to mobilise for gay rights in Canada. He called the raids “one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.” The February 1981 event was notable for its “destructiveness” and that the raids did not occur on only one night.

“The 35th anniversary of the 1981 raids is a time when the Toronto Police Service expresses its regrets for those very actions. It is also an occasion to acknowledge the lessons learned about the risks of treating any part of Toronto’s many communities as not fully a part of society.”

“Recognizing diversity requires consistently renewed practice strategies and reaching out to communities and vigilance in challenging stereotypes. Policing requires building mutual trust and that means forging links with the full range of communities that make up this extraordinary city. The Toronto Police Service recognizes the lessons from that period have continuing relevance for the creation of a more inclusive city.”

Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun and a colleague paid a visit to one of the bath houses at the time, in search of a story.

…Subsequent to the raids on the four bathhouses in which 300 men were arrested for being found-ins or operators of a bawdy house, I was assigned by the Sun to spend the night in one with fellow reporter John Paton. …On the night of our own Operation Soap, I was nervous lining up to get into the Romans II bathhouse on Bay St., mainly because I didn’t know what to expect.

The fact you had to check-in and be admitted through a secured door after paying your entry fee and receiving a towel didn’t help.

What would I say if I was propositioned? Would there be orgies? If I saw someone underage being compelled into sexual acts, wouldn’t I have a moral obligation to intervene?

Nothing like that happened.

Aaaah.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/police-apology-raids-1.3647668

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/06/22/my-night-in-a-gay-bathhouse

Advertisements

The Orlando shooting

gh160619

On June 12, 2016, at around 2 am, security guard Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people, taking hostages, and injuring 53 others. He was shot dead by Police when a SWAT team ended the incident at around 5.00 am.

16236gh

Phelan M Ebenhackz, Associated Press/CNN | 16236 gh

Three of the injured casualties were Police.

Steve Sesius/Reuters | 16237gh

Vigils were held by the gay community around the world in response to the outrage, including in London’s Old Compton Street.

16231ga

Yui Mok/Press Association | 16231ga

The LGBT Community Center of Central Florida provided grief counselling for the survivors. A victims’ assistance center was opened at Camping World Stadium.
Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature in the Orlando area following the attack, allowing users to mark themselves as “safe” to notify family and friends—the first use of the feature in the United States.

Following the shooting, gay pride festival organizers made plans to mark the outrage in their Pride Marches, and increase the security of Pride events.

16234viega

Vienna | C Bruna/Picture Alliance/DPA | 16234viega

In Vienna around 130,000 people turned out for the Rainbow Parade. A minute’s silence was held before the festivities got underway. The march was led by a black-clad group called “Victims of Hate Crimes – Marching for those who can’t,” holding a rope around a space where normally a float full of dancers would be, representing “those lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and inter-sex people who lost their lives in Orlando and who can’t be marching with us”.

16238gh

Omar Mateen | 16238gh

More information will be added to this article when available.

SP