Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Will Bathhouse Raid Victims Be Compensated ?

     The Chief of the Toronto Police Service is scheduled to formally apologize to the Gay and Lesbian community tomorrow for the infamous Bathhouse Raids carried out on February 5th, 1981.  On February 5th, 1981  one hundred and fifty police officers used crow-bars and sledge-hammers to break-into four bathhouses where gay men socialized. They arrested roughly 300 people and charged them with various morality-based sexual offences - most of which were later withdrawn at court.  All of this police conduct was perpetrated with the full force and effect of law in Ontario.  All of this after homosexual sexual acts were decriminalized and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau proclaimed that the state had no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

     The actions of the Toronto Police Service naturally caused profound harm to the recipients of their actions and their friends and families.  Naturally, those who suffered ought to be fairly compensated.

     Clearly, no one can argue against a public acknowledgement of wrong-doing.  This is an integral part to change and renewal.

     However, the timing of the apology - coming as it does on the heels of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history  - where a lone gunman killed 49 people and injured just as many on account of their sexual orientation causes me to reflect more deeply on this anticipated apology.  It is shocking to my conscience that these police actions were perpetrated under the full force and authority of the law in Ontario and with no consequence to the perpetrators.  That is problematic.  It suggests to me that what ever apology is forthcoming for this wrong-doing must by necessity go beyond the police.    


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