This piece was previously written for Humber Et Cetera and is available HERE.
Toronto’s Pride committee recently lifted the ban on uniformed cops at its annual festival and this has stirred many emotions in many people. It is true cops do great things for the community, however, minorities such as the LGBTQ+ often don’t feel they are part of that community.
The most notable recent case of police failing the LGBTQ+ community is the serial killings in the Church-Wellesley are, an area often simply referred to as The Village.
Several people went missing from The Village area and many suspected a serial killer was using the area as their hunting grounds. Despite this, police told the community there was no evidence a serial killer was in the area.
The police dropped the ball.
Although hindsight is 20/20, many LGBTQ+ felt they were ignored and people suffered because of it.
Bruce McArthur, a landscaper, was arrested January of this year and is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder. Superior Court Justice John McMahon set the trial to begin in January 2020.
This missing village people situation is one of the many examples of how people feel police failed LGBTQ+ communities across Ontario. This is part of the prejudiced history that cops have been synonymous with for decades.
Tom Moclair, a police sergeant, wrote the essay The Homosexual Fad for the police association’s internal magazine in 1979 where he claimed gay men were arrogant deviants and alluded to them being pedophiles.
In 1981, Toronto Police launched Operation Soap, a bathhouse sting operation, that resulted in the arrests of over 286 men for what they deemed indecent acts.
People often state these things happened a long time ago but there have been raids as recent as the 2000s. Six male officers raided an event hosted by the Women’s Bathhouse Committee on Sept. 14, 2000, and police filed liquor licence charges. The charges were tossed by a court two years later, but it took a lawsuit and 16 years before police finally apologized.
The group rejected the apology because the group felt no actions were put behind the statement of regret. A judge granted the women a $350,000 settlement against the police service for the violation of the women’s human rights.
That leaves more than 39 years of cops either actively policing against LGBTQ+ people to being what some claim as being dismissive to issues of great importance to the community.
This is something that extends beyond the GTA. According to the National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs in America (NCAVP), 66 per cent of LGBTQ+ survivors of violence who reached out to police for help said cops were indifferent or hostile.
The Pride Parade is a time for LGBTQ+ people and allies to join to celebrate human rights and it doesn’t make sense to include an association that shows time after time that they are not allies.