Last edited: November 06, 2004

15 Charged in Bathhouse Raid, December 14, 2002

By Rich Peters, Western Canada Bureau Chief

Calgary, Alberta—Anger and fear swept through Calgary’s gay community Friday following a police raid on the city’s only bathhouse. Police entered Goliath’s Steam Bath shortly after 6 p.m. on Thursday night arresting more 13 patrons and two staff members.

The patrons were charged with "being inmates of a common bawdy house." The two employees were charged with "keeping a bawdy house". Police also say charges of keeping a common bawdy house will be laid on the owners of the club.

Vice squad head, Staff Sgt. Joe Houben says the charges were laid after a two month undercover instigation. Houben alleges that officers found common areas were being used for sex. But, he denies the charges were laid as a result of homophobia.

Roy Heale, publisher of Outlooks magazine Calgary’s GLBT publication, says there also has been a crackdown on hustlers and street cruising.

Bawdy house charges date back to the mid 1800s and are regularly used against prostitution agencies. The charges have also been used in other bathhouse raids in Canada.

On February 5, 1981 Toronto police raided several steam baths charging dozens with bawdy house offences. The police action resulted in massive protests and is credited as being the start of a widespread gay rights movement in Canada. Almost all of the charges were thrown out.

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