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The Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBT Issues ignores impact of the 69 reform on Indigenous people, lesbians, and reproductive rights.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault stated that in 1969 "the government of the day removed a provision in the criminal code that prevented people from loving who they wanted to love." This is demonstrably false, no provisions related to homosexuality were removed in 1969.

Throughout 2019, the Canadian government is funding celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the ‘decriminalization’ of homosexuality.

In a recent interview for NEWNOWNEXT , Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault stated, “The government of the day removed a provision in the criminal code that prevented people from loving who they wanted to love.” He added that the “1969 decriminalization of homosexuality is a big milestone… full stop.”

Anti-69, a forum taking place this weekend in Ottawa, brings together activists, community members and scholars who question the mythologies surrounding this reform. Anti-69 includes films, plenaries, panels and discussions.

Forum co-organizer and historian Tom Hooper responded to Boissonnault’s claim, saying “this is a demonstrably false statement, shouldn’t the special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBT Issues know better?” The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-9, otherwise known as the Omnibus Bill, added an exception clause to the offenses of buggery and gross indecency, but these were not repealed.

“No provisions related to homosexuality were removed from the Criminal Code in 1969, full stop,” said Hooper.

The exception clause allowed two adults 21 years of age and older to commit acts of buggery or gross indecency provided they were in a strict definition of private. “Milestone? This merely recognized the obvious: the state did not have the resources to police the bedrooms of the nation,” Hooper added.

Fellow Anti-69 organizer and gay historian Gary Kinsman stated, “rather than people being able to love who they wanted to love, charges for consensual homosexual sex dramatically escalated after the 1969 reform. Those under a discriminatory age of consent set at 21 remained criminalized. This included not only gross indecency but many other provisions in the Criminal Code, including indecent acts, vagrancy, obscenity, and bawdy houses.”

Anti-69 has a broad focus. Usually the focus on the 1969 reform is only about male homosexuality. Anti-69 will examine the connections between the 1969 White Paper on the extinguishing of Indigenous sovereignty and the 69 reform; the lack of impact on lesbians whose oppression was not organized through these sections of the Criminal Code; and the major lack of access for women to abortion services as a result of the limitations of the 69 reform.

Speakers at the media conference this Friday include Tom Hooper who is a historian of the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids and a member of the organizing committee for Anti-69; Laura Hall who grew up on Anishinaabe territory in N'Swakamok (Sudbury), raised by a Mohawk mother and English/Canadian father and who emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and the influences of Haudenosaunee knowledge with an emphasis on intersectionality and social and environmental justice; and Sarah Rodiman, PhD, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa.

For more information contact: Gary Kinsman gkinsman@laurentian.ca or Tom Hooper at thooper@yorku.ca

More questions about 1969? See the Frequently Asked Questions: www.anti-69.ca/faq

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2019
Media contact: Tom Hooper (thooper@yorku.ca), Gary Kinsman (gkinsman@laurentian.ca)

The organizing committee for Anti-69 has learned that the theme for Capital Pride’s WinterPride from Feb. 6-Feb. 10th, 2019 will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexual acts in Canada. Anti-69 is a conference taking place from March 23-24 at Carleton University, it brings together activists and academics to deconstruct the mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Code reform.

While Anti-69 welcomes the expansion of Capital Pride into Winterlude, there are problems with the WinterPride theme. Lara Karaian, one of the conference organizers and criminologist at Carleton University, stated “the mythology perpetuated by the WinterPride theme misleads people as to the nature and significance of the 1969 reform and eclipses and obscures Ottawa’s LGBTQ2+ history, including both the legal and police repression and the queer community’s resistance to this.”

According to Karaian, the reforms did not dislodge legal notions of indecency and obscenity that were used against LGBTQ2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two Spirit and more) people, not only in bawdy house charges throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but also the censorship of queer publications and bookstores. This included The Body Politic, Little Sister’s bookstore in Vancouver, and Glad Day in Toronto. Karaian stated, “Unfortunately, the 69 reform actually had little to do with achieving LGBTQ2+ rights. In fact, two years later in August 1971 the first cross-country demonstration for lesbian and gay rights on Parliament Hill, now known as the We Demand demonstration, was explicitly directed against the limitations of the 69 criminal code reform."

In Ottawa, the limitations of the 69 reform had devastating consequences. “The 69 reform did nothing to lesson the national security purge campaigns in the public service and military with thousands of people being purged and put under surveillance in the 1970s and 1980s. The official military purge campaign did not end until 1992,” said Gary Kinsman, another spokesperson for Anti-69 and a gay historian.

Kinsman also noted that in the debates in the House of Commons “the main argument used by supporters of reform was that people who committed homosexual acts in ‘private’ were not criminals but were instead ‘mentally ill’ and should be under a psychiatrists, psychologists or doctor’s care. This is not an argument used by people supporting LGBTQ2+ rights.”

“The so-called decriminalization or partial decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 is based on a myth,” said Anti-69 organizer and historian Tom Hooper. “No offenses were repealed in 1969,” Hooper continued. “Instead, the Liberal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau added an ‘exception clause’ for the offences of gross indecency and buggery. They would no longer be crimes if committed in private between only two adults aged 21 and over.” This was based on a discriminatory age of consent based on the myth that male adolescents and young men needed extra legal protection from ‘homosexual advances.’ Meanwhile the age of consent for most heterosexual sex was then set at 14.

In 1975 in Ottawa 18 men were charged with various offences including gross indecency and buggery for consensual sexual encounters with other males ranging in age from 16 to 21. “Central to these charges was the higher age of consent set for gross indecency and buggery in the 69 reform. The police released the names and identities of those charged to the media which then publicly released this information” stated Kinsman. Kinsman went on that “one of the men charged, Warren Zufelt, a 34-year-old public servant, after his first court appearance on a charge of gross indecency, climbed to the 13th floor of his apartment building and jumped to his death.”. Gays of Ottawa (GO) held rallies protesting Zufelt’s death, police persecution of gays, biased media reporting and the printing of the names of those charged and called for a uniform age of consent for all sexual acts. GO argued that anti-gay discrimination, the police and the media had killed Zufelt.

Given its use in Ottawa it is important to remember that “the 69-reform left intact the infamous bawdy house law,” said Hooper. “The ‘acts of indecency’ section of the bawdy house law was used in a raid on the Club Baths in Ottawa as part of the ‘clean-up’ campaign before the 1976 Montreal Olympics.” This led to the arrest of 27 men under the bawdy house laws with two charged for gross indecency for consensual sexual activity behind cubicle doors. “As in Montreal and Toronto police refused the master key and entered rooms by smashing in doors. They also seized the club membership list, securing more than 3,000 names” Hooper adds. In response GO organized a media conference and demonstration and most of the men were finally acquitted in 1977.

“Criminal charges against LGBTQ2+ people not only continued after 1969, they escalated. Mass arrests took place in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton, among others,” said Hooper. “Gross Indecency and buggery were not the only offences used to criminalize LGBTQ2+ people for consensual homosexual sex and trans gender expression.” (See Chart: Bathhouse Raids in Canada, 1968-2004).

Hooper also made other connections to this reform, “celebrating 1969 obscures the history of colonialism and the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and Two-Spirit identities. This so-called decriminalization was directly linked to the policy of assimilation in the 1969 White Paper. This was all part of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s ‘Just Society.’”

In their theme statement Capital Pride acknowledges that there is still a lot to be done, and Anti-69 agrees. They specifically note the continuing criminalization of consensual sexual activities, the blood ban against men and trans women for engaging in same-sex sexual activities; the continuing use of conversion therapy, that certain powerful voices “trying to instill homophobic and transphobic policies” are being heard and they call on people to take to the streets “continuing the fight for full equality in Canada and around the world.” The Anti-69 organizing committee agrees, which is why we argue against perpetuating this myth that homosexual acts were partially decriminalized in 1969.

Speakers at Anti-69 include: Christo Aivalis, Beverly Bain, Cheri DiNovo, OmiSoore Dryden, Richard Fung, Tom Hooper, Lara Karaian, Punam Khosla, Gary Kinsman, Robert Leckey, Tim McCaskell, Karen Pearlston, Judy Rebick, Christabelle Sethna, and Rinaldo Wallcott. Sessions will address: 1969 101, Critique’s of Trudeau’s ‘Just Society,’ The White Paper and Settler Colonialism, Sex Work, Reproductive Justice, Early Activism and “We Demand,” Sex, Crime and the Law, Queer Activist History, Activism Then and Now and more. There will be an Anti-69 video program including a showing of Forbidden Love.

Update: due to the efforts of Anti-69, Pride Toronto announced on March 25, 2019 that they will instead adopt a theme commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

January 28, 2019
For immediate release
Media contact:  Tom Hooper – thooper@yorku.ca

The organizing committee of Anti-69 has learned that Pride Toronto’s theme for 2019 will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada (see below). Anti-69 is a conference taking place from March 23-24 at Carleton University, it brings together activists and academics to deconstruct the mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Code reform.

Anti-69 spokesperson Tom Hooper stated, “The so-called ‘decriminalization’ of homosexuality in 1969 is based on a complete myth.” The reform was neither the legalization nor decriminalization of homosexuality. “No offenses were repealed in 1969,” Hooper continued. “Instead, the Liberal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau added an ‘exception clause’ for the offences of gross indecency and buggery. They would no longer be crimes if committed in private between two adults aged 21 and over.” This was based on a discriminatory age of consent based on the myth that male adolescents and young men needed extra legal protection from ‘homosexual advances.’ Meanwhile the age of consent for most heterosexual sex was then set at 14.

These were not the only offenses used to criminalize LGBTQ2+ people for consensual homosexual sex and trans gender expression. “The 1969 reform didn’t touch other provisions of the Criminal Code, including indecent acts, obscenity, or vagrancy,” said Hooper. “And most important in the case of Pride Toronto: the 69 reform left intact the infamous bawdy house law. In 1981, more than 300 men were arrested in raids against gay bathhouses, all under this antiquated Criminal Code provision. The organization that came to be known as Pride Toronto was created from the protest of these raids. In other words, Pride Toronto exists because homosexuality was not decriminalized in 1969.”

The reforms did not dislodge legal notions of indecency and this would be used against LGBTQ2+ people not only in bawdy house charges throughout the 1970s and 1980s (click here to see chart), it was used in obscenity charges against The Body Politic and by Canada Customs seizures against Little Sister’s bookstore in Vancouver and Glad Day in Toronto. According to Hooper, “Criminal charges against LGBTQ2+ people not only continued after 1969, they escalated.  Mass arrests took place in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton, among others.”

Hooper also noted that in the debates in the House of Commons “the main argument used by supporters of reform was that people who committed homosexual acts in ‘private’ were not criminals but were instead ‘mentally ill’ and should be under a psychiatrists, psychologists or doctor’s care. This is not an argument used by people supporting LGBTQ2+ rights.”

In their draft theme statement Pride Toronto does acknowledge that: “Decriminalization did not equate to equality, either in society, or where the law was contradictory; the law continued to make illegal sex between consenting adults in anywhere other than private spaces,” but the focus on the decriminalization of homosexuality profoundly misleads people as to the nature of the 1969 reform.

While the theme statement mentions the crucial Stonewall riots of 1969 that led to the formation of gay and lesbian liberation groups around the world, including the Gay Liberation Front in Vancouver in November 1970, the front de liberation homosexual in Montreal in March 1971, and Toronto Gay Action in Toronto in 1971, it does not note that the Stonewall rebellion was against a routine police raid. The history of pride comes from a history of resistance to police repression, whether at Stonewall or in the Toronto bath raids.

In the proposed theme statement Pride Toronto argues that because of the ‘decriminalization’ of homosexuality in 69, “Canada is now considered the most LGBTQ2+ friendly nation in the world, and took up the road to equality first and has come the furthest. Throughout June 2019 we want to ensure that the world knows to follow Canada's lead and recognize everyone in our community as unique and deserving of the right to equality.” Hooper responded saying, “the 69 reform had nothing to do with establishing social equality for LGBTQ2+ people, that this statement ignores important struggles for our rights around the world, including in the global south and it ignores all the work that remains to be done here at home to establish social equality.” Hooper made other connections to this reform, “celebrating 1969 attempts to obscure the history of colonialism and the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and Two-Spirit identities. This so-called decriminalization was directly linked to the policy of assimilation in the 1969 White Paper. This was all part of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s ‘Just Society.’”

Speakers at Anti-69 include: Christo Aivalis, Beverly Bain, Cheri DiNovo, OmiSoore Dryden, Punam Khosla, Gary Kinsman, Robert Leckey, Tim McCaskell, Valerie Scott, Christabelle Sethna, and Rinaldo Wallcott  Sessions will address: 1969 101, Critique’s of Trudeau’s ‘Just Society,’ The White Paper and Settler Colonialism, Sex Work, Reproductive Justice, Early Activism and “We Demand,” Sex, Crime and the Law, Queer Activist History, Activism Now  and more.

For more information on Anti-69 visit: www.anti-69.ca
Media contact:  Tom Hooper – thooper@yorku.ca


Leaked Pride Toronto theme statement for 2019

In 2019 Pride Toronto's theme is the 50th Year of Decriminalization of Homosexuality In Canada.

In 1969 Canada decriminalized homosexuality, simultaneously in 1969 the Stonewall Riots took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York, which began the international fight for LGBTQ2+ rights around the world. Decriminalization did not equate to equality, either in society, or where the law was contradictory; the law continued to make illegal sex between consenting adults in anywhere other than private spaces.

Our theme this year celebrates the beginning of the LGBTQ2+ community's fight for complete acceptance by honouring The Stonewall Riots New York in June 1969. Our theme celebrates the real beginning of our fight for safety and justice under the law and in society as a whole. It centres the rainbow, as it symbolizes the universal way we are connected, and recognizes that the rainbow is the true nature of our community; inclusive, embracing everyone in our community. We demonstrate growth by highlighting the flag, and all of the flags our community every letter in the community's acronym. From the Trans flag to the Bi flag, the community is growing, and the representation of all of us is what makes us truly diverse.

The 50th year of Decriminalization in Canada is significant. Canada is now considered the most LGBTQ2+ friendly nation in the world, and took up the road to equality first and has come the furtherest. Throughout June 2019 we want to ensure that the world knows to follow Canada's lead and recognize everyone in our community as unique and deserving of the right to equality.