Rae Warns Against Bathhouse Charges
Argues Relations with Gay Community Would Be Undermined
September 21, 2000
By Ashante Infantry, Toronto Star Staff Reporter
Filing Liquor Licence Act charges against organizers of a lesbian bathhouse night
visited by police last week would undermine relations between police and the gay
community, city Councillor Kyle Rae says.
The politicians initial concerns over whether participants would face bawdy house
charges have given way to disbelief upon learning that police are considering laying
charges of disorderly conduct under the Liquor Licence Act.
"I got calls today and yesterday from residents associations saying they are
stunned that the police have time to be bothered with this kind of issue when they have
got crack dealers operating in houses next door to them . . . and we have not been able to
move them out because we do not have the police resources to deal with that.
"Yet, we are able to find five officers to go on a panty raid at a womens
pub," Rae told a city hall news conference yesterday.
Last Thursday, five male plainclothes officers entered the bathhouse at Carlton and
Mutual Sts. about 1 a.m. and spent at least two hours conducting a room-to-room search and
Superintendent Aidan Maher, who commands downtowns 52 Division, confirmed charges
The organizers lawyer, Frank Addario, said police will face "a really big
fight" if the charges are laid.
"The Liquor Licence Act is really a refuge for a police officer who has gone into
a bathhouse and now is faced with a quandary (when) theres no criminal offence that
he or she can prosecute," Addario said.
"This was a safe, friendly environment. No one was being degraded or dehumanized,
and therefore it would be very hard to describe this as disorderly conduct," he said.
The premises, which normally operates as a mens bathhouse, is not licensed to
sell alcohol, but organizers received a special occasion permit for the event.
The possible disorderly conduct charges relate to alcohol allegedly consumed in areas
of the bathhouse not covered by the permit.
"There are hundreds of special occasion permits issued every day in this city, so
we have to question why they would choose this particular one to investigate," said
organizer Janet Rowe, adding she was unaware of any liquor violations having occurred.
"Our women report feeling intimidated, violated and humiliated by this
experience," said Rowe.
"For us, it remains to be seen whether this was just a few rogue cops who decided
that they would get their kicks out of raiding a womens bathhouse, or if this is a
new policing priority that is being set.
"This has seriously strained our relationship with police, particularly at a time
when (Chief Julian) Fantino says he wants that relationship to improve through the
establishment of a community liaison committee," she said.
Rae, the citys only openly gay councillor, found it curious the incident occurred
days before a prearranged meeting between police and members of the gay and lesbian
community to form a liaison committee.
"Each time we move closer to making a breakthrough in improving the relationship,
there are rogue cops who wish to undermine that.
"The officers in uniform have got a great reputation in working with our
community," Rae said.
"(But) I think some of the male undercover officers in 52 Division are offended
that the gay community have these institutions where straight people dont."
[Home] [World] [Canada]