Human Rights Panel: Bathhouse Raids
June 7th 2016 at 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
On February 5, 1981, police raided Toronto’s gay baths and arrested 286 men on bawdy house charges. The raids, carried out with calculated brutality and overt homophobia, resulted in extensive property damage. An immediate and sustained grassroots response led by the Right to Privacy Committee (RTPC) included massive demonstrations, fundraising for cover court costs, legal coordination, media outreach and alliances with racialized groups similarly harassed by police. In the end, more than 80% of those charged were acquitted and our community emerged as a visible and vibrant part of the city’s mosaic, transforming the social landscape forever.
This panel on the community impact of the raids features author Margaret Atwood, who spoke out forcefully at the time of the raids; Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Brent Hawkes, who began a hunger strike to force an official enquiry; Susan Cole, journalist and a member of the Broadside Feminist collective; Dennis Findlay, coordinator of the RTPC’s Court Watch program; Gary Kinsman, a member of the RTPC steering committee; and Share Newspaper columnist Ajamu Nangwaya. The panel will be chaired by Loralee Gillis, a founder of Pussy Palace, Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee.