Last edited: December 20, 2004

Toronto Chief Slams Gay Ruling, December 19, 2004

By Jan Prout Toronto Bureau

Toronto, Ontario—Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino says his officers do not need LGBT sensitivity training—a requirement under a settlement ending a legal dispute over a raid on a lesbian bathhouse night four years ago.

“It’s being forced on us,” Fantino told the Toronto Star newspaper. “We are conscientious about diversity and sensitivity and all those kinds of things. Is it necessary? I think that in many respects this is a duplication of much of the work we already do.”

Under the agreement worked out between the Police Services Board—Fantino’s boss—and women who accused the force of heavy-handedness over the raid, all Toronto police, from the chief to cadets, will undergo LGBT sensitivity training and the force will pay $350,000 (Cdn).

Police board chair Pam McConnell said Fantino’s objections would not prevent “these important” actions from being put into effect.

“This is not the jurisdiction of the chief of police,” McConnell told The Star. “This is the jurisdiction of the board. I think human rights in our city should be taken exceedingly seriously.”

Police entered the Club Toronto in the early hours of Sept. 15, 2000 during a lesbian event known as the “Pussy Palace.” More than 100 women, many naked, were in the building at the time. The officers, all male, spent 90 minutes walking through the facility in Toronto’s gay village, opening doors to private cubicles and questioning the women.

At the time police insisted the raid was a routine liquor license inspection and claimed they gave the women an opportunity to dress.

Two women who had obtained a special occasion permit under the Ontario Liquor License Act were charged with several offences, including permitting disorderly conduct and serving alcohol after hours.

On January Jan. 31, 2002 they were acquitted. In delivering his verdict, Mr. Justice Peter Hryn of the Ontario Court of Justice was critical of the police conduct. Hryn said the officers’ entry into the club was comparable to a strip search, calling it outrageous, flagrant, deliberate, unjustified and a violation of the women’s constitutional rights.

The settlement requires the five male police officers who conducted the raid to issue signed apologies to the 300 women who were attending the “Pussy Palace” event the night of the raid.

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