Skip to content

Anti-69 Speakers

For the schedule, see the Anti-69 Program.

In alphabetical order:

Cameron Aitken

he/him - Office manager at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD).

Title: “CCGSD: Addressing the 69 reform -- An organizational approach to institutionalized homophobia and transphobia in Canadian Institutions.”

A discussion on our Pink Agenda, and what lobbying the CCGSD has done with regards to anti-69, and the impact it has had (on the organization, in the community, in our work..). The impact it has had has been govt telling us to stop, and soft-threats to funding. The impact it has had on our work has been the CCGSD incorporating this conversation into almost all youth and adult community programming .

What responsibility do queer & trans folk (organizations and individuals) have to challenge false narratives of governments. This includes being better informed and challenging folks on the ground (back-bencher MPs) and others to understand the issues of a false narrative and the impacts of claiming history that is not their. This often involves challenging a narrative centered around homonationalism and state compliance instead of violence.

Christo Aivalis

Author of The Constant Liberal: Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Organized Labour, and the Canadian Social Democratic Left.

Title: “P.E. Trudeau , the Just Society, and Attacks on Workers’ Rights”

One of my book chapters explores the limits of the Just Society when it pertains to taxation and a guaranteed annual income. I also explore how some workers used the rhetoric of the Just Society to attack Trudeau on his hypocrisy and inaction on these core issues. But beyond this, my book goes into how Trudeau used both legislation and his public addresses to put forward a vision of society which deemed working-class expectations as unreasonable and decadent. He thus, throughout his time in power, used these means to attack unions and social programs under the idea that if Canada wanted to be lean, mean, and globally competitive, it had to become more friendly to employers and investors, and the benefits of this would eventually trickle down to the working people. 

I will go over the 'highlights' of Trudeau's attacks on workers and the limitations of the Just Society.

The nature of Trudeau's Just Society: basically argue here that while many assumed it was about economic equality, Trudeau never made this a priority

How Trudeau's Just Society really didn't include tax fairness or the elimination of poverty: I briefly note here that whether on the GAI, or in regards to the Carter Report on Taxation, Trudeau rejected the ideas of the NDP/labour--and even from progressives in his own party--to side with business and the wealthy. He was also wedded to 19th century concerns about work ethic erosion that accompanied social assistance 

How Trudeau's public oration attacked working class expectations: from the time Trudeau took power, he questioned the danger of regular people expecting things like never before, and how Canada could not meet those expectations, at least under our current model which he was unwilling to deviate from. With this in mind, Trudeau over his near generation in power would lecture working people to accept less in order to make our country more competitive, and to address inflation. He also demanded unions be more reasonable in their demands.

How Trudeau's policies attacked workers' basic rights: This would focus in especially on his various efforts to limit the right to collectively bargain. This includes the Anti-Inflation Board in the mid 1970s, the 6&5 programme in the early 1980s, and his plan (never implemented) to effectively end bargaining within the federal public service during the late 1970s.

Beverly Bain

Beverly Bain is a Black queer feminist scholar and activist. She teaches in Women and Gender Studies-UTM Campus, University of Toronto and writes in the areas of black and diasporic sexualities, violence against women, transnationalism and anticapitalism.

Title: “A  ‘New’ War on Queers”: Pride Toronto, The State and Dissident Queers

The National Security Campaigns that were conducted against queers in the 50’s and 60’s were linked to the ongoing monitoring and surveillance of Black activists in Canada during that period.  The techniques of monitoring phones, informants and infiltrating meetings were all used by Police officers and other state officials against Black and Black Queer and trans activists who were organizing against police and other forms of state violence.

This paper will argue that the coalescing of Pride Toronto, the City, Toronto Police Services and the Province is aimed at the management, surveillance and eventual sabotage of queer organizations across Canada.  Queers perceived as dissidents would include many BIPOC queer and trans who will be primary targets of these techniques.  This decision is also occurring in a context where white homonormativity, neoliberalism and corporatization, have been reshaping queerness and the queer movement to fit those agendas. 

This paper will engage new possibilities of mobilizing and organizing of LGBTQ and BIPOC queer and trans people in Canada against this “new” war on queer communities in Canada.

Angela Chaisson

Angela Chaisson is the principal at Angela Chaisson Law, a boutique litigation firm focusing on issues affecting women and queer people,with a specialization in online abuse issues

Title: “Non-consensual sharing of intimate images: what have we learned from Canada's revenge porn laws?”

The 1969 legal reforms did nothing to create a positive right to sexual and bodily autonomy. Similarly, the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has not resulted in a strong jurisprudence of sexual autonomy. Only in 2015 did Parliament criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images,  despite that the issue has its roots in the 1960s.  This talk will discuss the historical and current contexts of "revenge pornography" in Canada, and the broad trends in the case law since

the 2015 Criminal Code amendment. It will also offer suggestions for reform in this area, to address the shortcomings in the current legislation.

Jenn Clamen

Stella l’amie de Maimie (Montreal)

Title: “Criminal code reform: A long and repetitive story of sex workers being left behind”

Sex work law reform has been central to parliamentary and public discussion for over 50 years. More recently in 2013, when the Bedford v. Canada ruling struck down three major prostitution provisions, regulation of sex work was, again, open discussion. The Conservative party quickly ushered in a new set of “Nordic inspired” criminalizations, with The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA, née C-36). Despite the rhetoric being couched in “protection of sex workers”, the criminalizations introduced reproduce many of the harms that the justices in Bedford determined to be unconstitutional. Five years after the implementation of these new laws sex workers are met with silence from all political parties, despite continued resistance from sex working communities. The criminal code reforms that occupy the current party has excluded sex work, and the conflation of sex work and human trafficking has encouraged a stronger police presence in the lives of sex workers.

This presentation will provide historical and current context to the public and private regulation of sex work. It will detail the current antagonism between sex workers and police, and illustrate with a few police initiatives locally in Montreal, and nationally across Canada.  It will also show case how sex workers continue to resist this criminalization on a national scale and make proposals for how to start removing police from the lives of sex workers.

Alexa DeGagne

she/her - Alexa DeGagne is an Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at Athabasca University. Her current research project examines the changing relationships between LGBTQ communities and police organizations across Canada.

Discussant in the Closing Plenary: Beyond Anti-69.

Cheri DiNovo

she/her - Before arriving at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church was MPP for Parkdale-High Park.  She is the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for her book Queerying Evangelism.

Title: “My Life in the Early 1970s: Feminism, Gay Liberation and ‘We Demand’”

This talk will put how I came to sign the cover letter for the We Demand demands with Brian Waite in the context of my life during the early seventies. These demands critical of the limitations of the 1969 criminal code reform were for the first cross-country action for lesbian and gay rights in Canadian history. I was a street kid from 15 on and part of the Community Homophile Organization of Toronto (CHAT) and associated with Toronto Gay Action, the group that organized the We Demand action.  I was also a member of the Young Socialists and involved in editing Toronto's first Feminist paper The Velvet Fist.  It is in this context that I co-signed the We Demand demonstration letter and attended with my girlfriend the first Toronto Pride on the Island. 

OmiSoore H. Dryden

she/her - OmiSoore H. Dryden is the Principal Investigator of a two-year research project that seeks to identify the barriers African/Black gay, bisexual, and trans men encounter to donating blood in Canada. She is the JRJ Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University.

Title: "Black Queer Radical Thought in the UnJust Society"

In the Just Society Report, Egale Canada mentions Black people twice. First on page 22 when referencing a Black man named Prince who was convicted of sodomy in 1777; and again on page 100, in relation to the analytic of intersectionality by referencing "someone who is black and gay." In this paper, I examine how Blackness in Canada is used to frame the normative gay subject. Specifically how are Black queer people understood, not only in the colonial nation, but also in queer rights activism as captured in the work of Egale? In the homonormative spaces of Canadian queer spaces, Black people remain an unimaginable presence. Instead, Blackness is deployed as a measurement for queer exceptionalism. Using the tenants of Black Radical Thought, I focus my attention on Egale's websites, press releases, legal factum and articles in order to track Egale's use of Blackness in their work for gay rights.

Richard Fung

he/him - Richard Fung is an award-winning video artist and writer, and Professor in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University. He is a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto in 1980, and has been active in a number of LGBTQI+ organizations and campaigns.

Discussant in the Closing Plenary: Beyond Anti-69.

Laura Hall

Laura Hall grew up on Anishinaabe territory in N'Swakamok (Sudbury), raised by a Mohawk mother and English/Canadian father. Laura's research emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and the influences of Haudenosaunee knowledge in feminist, anarchist and environmental theories, with an emphasis on intersectionality and social and environmental justice

Title: “White Settler Homonationalism and the Roots of Heterosexist Patriarchy”

This presentation will explore the implications of white-settler homonationalism in a Canadian-colonial context. White-settler homonationalism obscures the roots of settler and state colonialism as a heterosexist and patriarchal project. The focus on same-sex marriage and legislative change, as well as more recent activism around sex-ed curriculum repeal in Ontario, has shaped a movement that obscures the lives of Indigenous Two-Spirit people while failing to understand the roots of homophobia and heterosexist patriarchy in settler and state colonialism. For example, the AIDS crises as it impacts 2SLGBTQ/Indigenous folks including sex workers, survivors of trafficking, and those walking with addiction, are muted in the larger movement to address the crisis. Recent arrivals of LGBTQ refugees to the United States, now facing militarized opposition, also demand attention as the boundaries between colonial states continue to obscure Indigeneity among refugee populations and therefore the unique voices of those individuals. This presentation will situate homonationalism in the project of white-settler nationalism and encroachment on Indigenous lands and rights. My presentation will then present the antitheses to this problem, rooted in Indigenous concepts, conversations and worldview.

Tom Hooper

he/him - Tom Hooper is a historian of the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids and a member of the organizing committee for Anti-69. .

Title: Condom or Viagra? Was 1969 a Turning Point? (with Tim McCaskell)

1969 is often viewed as a major turning point in the narrative of LGBTQ2 history. The decriminalization of gross indecency and buggery among two consenting adults in private was a key part of Pierre Trudeau's 'Just Society'. Some scholars and activists have been critically revisiting the 'Just Society', this panel will contribute to that conversation by offering different perspective on this legal reform.

Jula Hughes

she/her - Professor and University Research Scholar, Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick (UNB).

Title: “Abortion law in the rear view mirror - reforms may appear smaller (and larger) than they appear:  abortion access in Canada after 1969 and 1988.”

One of the enduring myths of Canadian abortion law is that the 1969 reforms did not translate into abortion access and that it took the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1988 in Morgentaler to bring about transformative change. The proposed presentation aims to moderate both claims to suggest that the 1969 reforms did result in very important changes including a very significant impact on pregnancy-related mortality and broadening of the exposure of physicians and hospital administrators to the lived realities of women faced with unintended pregnancies. At the same time, the striking down of the TAC regime in Morgentaler in 1988 is better understood as resulting in regionally varied and socio-economically stratified access to abortion care as well as a highly complex landscape for subsequent reproductive choice advocacy. Both events should be seen as part of a long struggle for reproductive justice for people across gender, socio-economic and regional spectrums.

Lara Karaian

she/her - Lara Karaian is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Carleton University. Her research examines the intersections between the body, sexuality, technology, representation, expression, legal regulation, and popular culture.

Title: “Public Porn and Pleasure: Thinking Beyond the Bedrooms of the Nation”

This paper queers privacy discourses in the context of non-consensual “intimate image” distribution (NCIID)—colloquially known as “Revenge porn”. Drawing on queer theorization of privacy and intimacy I briefly outline and historicize the now well-established queer critique of privacy as a path to sexual liberation. From here, however, I consider the paradoxical work that privacy narratives play in non-consensual contexts for maintaining erotic injustice. I examine the links between privacy violations, public pleasure, and contemporary efforts to criminalize and govern public and paid sex—such as the banning of porn on tumblr, new online porn laws in the UK and Australia, the passing of SESTA-FOSTA in the US, and Canada’s Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (2014). 

Punam Khosla

she/her - Punam Khosla is a scholar activist/ lecturer whose research investigates the deeper questions raised in her activist work by rethinking the systemic work gendered, racialized and sexual violence does in our society.

Title: “A debonair deception: The racist, sexist, heteronormative violence of nascent Canadian neoliberalism.”

Arriving in Canada as a refugee in the wake of the ‘69 omnibus criminal code amendments, the ’69 George Williams occupation, the ’70 October crisis, the ’71 multicultural act, and the oncoming 70’s fiscal crisis, I came face to face with the yawning gap between liberal state rhetoric and the violent social everydayness of Canadian life. Canadian Mounted police lined the closed, eerily silent streets of Montreal as we were bussed from refugee flight to military base on October 16, 1972, the second anniversary of Canada’s invocation of the War Measures Act. This was the opening act of a series of personal and political realizations about the shiny poisoned apple of Canada’s liberal promise. In this paper I will track some of the key race, gender and class contradictions that were the social backdrop to Trudeau’s partial decriminalization of homosexuality and unpack the social/ political logic of early Canadian neoliberalism. This history, I argue, shines a clear light on the resurgence of this deceptively violent debonair logic under the present day Trudeau liberals. 

Gary Kinsman

he/him - Gary Kinsman is a long-time queer liberation and anti-capitalist activist and author.

Title: “Organizing from Below for Law Reform in the 1960s”

This presentation examines the forgotten homophile and gay and lesbian organizing in the 1960s in ‘Canada’ that participated in opening up the political, legal and social spaces for homosexual law reform to take place. Rather than the 1969 reform being a gift from above from Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the Liberal government this focuses on the activities of groups like the Association for Social Knowledge, The Canadian Council on Religion and the Homosexual,  the Homophile Reform Society, Gay and Two  and the activities of Doug Sanders, Bruce Somers, Norma Mitchell, and Gary Nichols who played a part in NDP MP Arnold Peters private members bill in 1964. These were varying attempts to use the 1957 British Wolfenden report to open up law reform discussions and popular education from below but these were overtaken by the use of the Wolfenden report from above by state and professional agencies. In response homophile and gay activists did critique the age of consent set at 21 in the 69 reform, the making of homosexual sex into a question of the public versus private, and the first public demonstration of the new gay and lesbian liberation movement in 1971was directed against the limitations of the 69 reform. This presentation draws on my work for The Regulation of Desire as well as "Wolfenden in Canada.”

Leon Laidlaw 

he/him - Leon Laidlaw is a PhD student in Sociology at Carleton University where he works at the intersection of Trans* studies and critical criminology.

Title: “State violence in times of ‘gender equality’: Examining the case of trans prisoners”

In June of 2017, the Trudeau government passed Bill C-16, which codified gender identity and gender expression as protected characteristics in the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. While the state is positioned as a source of protection for the transgender community, racialized and low-income trans people are drawn into the prison industrial-complex through a web of structural injustices, purposeful targeting, and discriminatory laws. Once imprisoned, trans people are subject to dehumanizing and violent conditions as a result of gender nonconformity. Yet, policy changes effectively invisibilize the harms experienced by this population; as of January of 2017, federal trans prisoners can now be housed on the basis of gender, rather than current sex. Considering the flaws in the new housing policy and theorizing the limits of gender-based protections for trans prisoners, it is argued that trans legal rights may provide an illusion of gender equality while permitting state-enforced gender-based violence to flourish.

Robert Leckey

he/him - Robert Leckey has been dean of the McGill Faculty of Law and Samuel Gale Professor of Law since 2016.

Title: “Criminal Family Law”

This paper takes the reforms of 1969 as the occasion for highlighting the ongoing extent to which the Parliament of Canada uses its power over the criminal law to maintain a body of criminal family law – setting norms for appropriate family and intimate life and punishing deviations therefrom. This focus on Canada’s criminal family law stands to complicate the story by which family law emerges largely from the Parliament’s legislation re marriage and divorce and the provinces’ legislation re solemnization of marriage and property & civil rights. It will complement efforts to highlight the regulation of family through socio-economic regimes of welfare and tax, as well as regimes such as immigration.  

Suzanne Lenon

she/her - Suzanne Lenon is associate professor in the department of Women & Gender Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta and the co-editor of Disrupting Queer Inclusion, Canadian Homonationalisms and the Politics of Belonging. 

“Intersectionality as Diversity and the Politics of Queer Settler Remembering.”

On 28 November 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians for historical persecution. Informing the contours of this apology was a report written by Egale Human Rights Trust entitled The Just Society Report: Grossly Indecent –Confronting the Legacy of State Sponsored Discrimination against Canada’s LGBTQ2SI Communities. This paper discusses Egale’s report, in particular its call for the federal government to offer an ‘intersectional’apology for historical injustices, one compatible with a politics of diversity and inclusion. In particular, the paper examines how the history of gender and sexual regulation in Canada is remembered in the JSR, particularly in the latter’s call to memorialize the harm done to Two-Spirit peoples and traditions through colonization. Marking sexual and gender oppression in Canada as “beginning with First Nations” relies on that which cannot be spoken: that such origins are what was (is)required in the first place to make ‘Canada’ as well as birth the lesbian/gay/queer settler sexuality that now seeks an apology by the white settler state. As it is deployed in the JSR, then, intersectionality is a symbolic declaration that sustains, rather than disrupts, the racial and settler colonial project that is currently called Canada. I contend that to remember and to memorialize are practices that require enacting ethics well beyond an emaciated liberal politics of multicultural inclusion.

R. Cassandra Lord

she/her - R. Cassandra Lord is an Assistant Professor of Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, specializing in black diasporic queer culture (Canada/US and the Caribbean), Black feminist theory, transnational feminism and critical geographies of race, space and place.

Title: “Disturbing Trudeau’s ‘Just Society’: Tracking the Demarcations of Sexuality and Race in Canadian State Policies.” 

This paper examines the relationship between the 1969 Canadian Criminal Code amendments and Canada’s Multiculturalism policy which came into effect in 1971 in order to bring a discussion of sexuality and race into the same frame. I historically track how the development of these policies were created simultaneously by the then justice minister and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. As entry points for discussion, I draw on Trudeau’s well-known declaration that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” a proclamation aimed at making Canada a “just society,” one in which everyone is equal regardless of one’s sexual identity or race. I utilize the work of critical race, transnational feminist and queer of colour theorists who have shown how despite its universal promise, these invitations to belong to the Canadian nation-state are mediated via racial discourses of whiteness. I further deploy a feminist queer diaspora reading practice to make visible the moments when queer diasporic people of colour are made invisible through the Criminal Code and the Multiculturalism policy. I argue that demarcations of sexuality and race into separate spheres is congruent and historically shaped by Canadian state policies.

Paul Macdonald

he/him - Paul Macdonald was involved in the Gay Liberation Front in London England, in Toronto Gay Action and was one of the founding members of The Body Politic collective.

Title: “My Involvement in Gay Liberation: From London to Toronto.”

I will be talking about the London GLF manifesto, which I was involved with, plus with the origins of Toronto Gay Action and the subsequent march on Parliament Hill in 1971 to the publication of 'We Demand'  in the first issue of The Body Politic, two months later, as one of the founding members of the collective.

Jamie Magnusson

Jamie Magnusson is an Associate Professor of Adult Education and Community Development, OISE, University of Toronto and has been involved for ten years of community organizing as a harm reduction worker in the Moss Park area of Toronto, primarily with sex workers.

Title: “Queer/Trans Sex Worker Organizing”

The 1969 Omnibus Bill partially decriminalized homosexuality, but never addressed criminalization of queer/trans sex workers. In fact, the Omnibus Bill may have exacerbated criminalization of queer/trans sex workers by virtue of the bill’s emphasis on “private sex acts” as the focus of decriminalization. Fifty years after the 1969 Omnibus Bill was introduced, police state, corporatized security, and home owner association violence against street based trans sex workers has escalated rather than declined. This intensification is produced through the material relations organizing urbanized accumulation, namely gentrification. Street based sex workers such as Alloura Wells, whose body was not identified by police until months after her ‘death’, illustrate the complex relations organizing lives that challenge white heteropatriarchal capitalism. Making a living as a trans sex worker criminalized Alloura as a racialized woman, a homeless woman, and as a drug user. Her life was made safer primarily through sex worker organizing and not through state intervention. Maggie’s, the Bad Date Coalition, harm reduction hubs, and sex worker community spaces can inform queer/trans organizing, and in particular radical strategies for community safety and decriminalization.

Marcus McCann

he/him - Marcus McCann is a lawyer who practices in the areas of employment, human rights and administrative law. He organized a group of lawyers to provide legal defence for those who had been caught in an undercover police sting of men at Marie Curtis Park.

Title: “Are there any bad sex laws? Legal Analysis in the Absence of a Sex-Positive Frame”

Canadian legal discourse has no way to distinguish between good sex laws and bad sex laws. The 1969 legal reforms did nothing to create a positive right to sexual and bodily autonomy. Similarly, the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has not resulted in a strong jurisprudence of sexual autonomy. Predictably, there are very few statements about sex in Canadian jurisprudence which view it as anything but a danger, an obscenity, or a nuisance. As a result, so long as sex is something which has no intrinsic value, the law will continue to view all sexual regulation as good regulation, unless it offends some other value. Legal theory has only recently began to grapple with the implications of this (Craig, 2012 and Kaplan, 2013). This talk will discuss some of the consequences for lawyers who practice in the area, drawing on the fight against policing of cruising in Marie Curtis Park and the battle over Ontario’s repeal of inclusive sexual education curriculum.

Tim McCaskell

he/him - Tim McCaskell is an activist and author of Queer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism.

Tim McCaskell is an activist and author of Queer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism.

Title: “Condom or Viagra: Was 1969 a Turning Point? (With Tom Hooper)

1969 is often viewed as a major turning point in the narrative of LGBTQ2 history. The decriminalization of gross indecency and buggery among two consenting adults in private was a key part of Pierre Trudeau's 'Just Society'. Some scholars and activists have been critically revisiting the 'Just Society', this panel will contribute to that conversation by offering different perspective on this legal reform..

Vincent Mousseau

they/them - Vincent Mousseau is a Black, queer and non-binary community organizer, educator, student, and activist based in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal, QC). Their areas of expertise include anti-oppressive framework, QTBIPOC community outreach strategies, intersectionality, as well as Black Lives Matter and radical queer activism. Their research surrounds the creation of LGBTQ2+ affirming spaces for youth of colour, as well as the barriers that Black MSM face in Canadian blood donation policy.

Discussant in the Closing Plenary: Beyond Anti-69.

Danielle Normandeau

they/them - Danielle Normandeau is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. Their doctoral research more broadly resides in the fields of critical disability studies, Mad studies, critical trans studies, and social philosophy. They are also a member of the Anti-69 organizing committee.

Title: “Disability and Resistance: Intersections of Disability in the 1969 Criminal Code Reform”

This paper will employ a critical disability studies lens to identify and examine the ableist contours of the 1969 omnibus Criminal Code Reform bill. At first glance, it would appear that disability was not a point of focus for the reform, which claimed to decriminalize homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, while in actuality, re-criminalizing them upon new grounds. However, the discourses embedded in the bill are fundamentally rooted in ableism and saneism, and, much like those deployed in the White Paper, state multiculturalism, and “Just Society,” were directed towards the production of the normative white, male, cis, heterosexual, property-owning citizen, who is still at the heart of contemporary legislation—albeit in new ways. Ultimately, this paper will demonstrate that a critical disability studies lens provides both a fruitful approach for analyzing the intersections of cis-heterosexism, settler colonialism, racism, and ableism underlying the bill, as well as a social justice framework for organizing across identifications to challenge these oppressive systems.

Karen Pearlston

she/her - Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick

Title: “Notes on Lesbian Legal History”

Historiographic issues are central to the “myth-busting” goals of anti-69 and our efforts to counter the idea that those reforms decriminalized homosexuality, thus leading the way to a bright and shining future of equal marriage. The legal history of women who have sex with women belies that ostensible trajectory, but explaining how requires a complex unravelling of legal history that grapples with the fact that lesbian conduct was rarely criminalized in the anglo-Canadian legal system, while at the same time lesbians could be disproportionately affected by legal sanctions that were not explicitly aimed at them. For example, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, which partially decriminalized homosexuality, had limited effect on lesbians because sex between women was not criminalized in Canada. Instead, Parliament addressed sex between women for the first time by including homosexuality as a ground for divorce in the Divorce Act, 1968. Anglo-Canadian family law understood the matrimonial offense of sodomy to consist of anal sex between men. The homosexual act ground for divorce was therefore aimed at lesbian conduct. My participation at anti-69 will draw on my historical findings as described above. In addition, I am currently reading lesbian historiography and hope to be able to make a contribution on that front.

Emma Posca

Emma Posca is a PhD candidate in the School of Gender Feminist and Sexuality Studies at York University where her dissertation topic is rooted in Sociological and Feminist theory as it resolves around the access to mental health resources for women in living in Diasporas in Toronto.

Title: “The Relation between the 69 Reform and the White Paper: Extinguishing Indigenous Sovereignty”

The Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1968-69, Bill C-150, was an omnibus bill that introduced significant changes to the Canadian Criminal Code.  Bill C-150 decriminalized homosexuality, allowed abortion under certain conditions and decriminalised the sale of contraceptives.  This reform was one of the most important ones in Canadian criminal and penal law ever attempted at one time in Canada.  Prime Minister Trudeau, who first introduced this bill, indicated that the purpose of the reform was to “keep the state out of the bedrooms of the nation and what’s done in private between adults does not concern the Criminal Code” (Canon 2011, 89).

Part of the amendment by Trudeau included the introduction of a policy paper that proposed ending the special legal relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian Federal government and dismantling the Indian Act. For Trudeau, the White Paper was intended to replace the Indian Act to address systemic inequalities between Indigenous people and Canadians. Trudeau framed the intention of the White Paper as a way to achieve equality among all Canadians by eliminating “Indian” as a distinct legal status and by regarding Aboriginal peoples simply as citizens with the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as other Canadians.  At the core of implementing the White Paper was the ideology of a “Just Society” that was discussed by Trudeau that would eliminate discrimination and would allow “Indian people to be free to develop Indian cultures in an environment of legal, social, and economic equality with other Canadians” (Tuhiwai-Smith 1999, 198).

Hegemonic ideals of “whiteness” were foundational to the development of a “Just Society” as discussed by Trudeau as a way to control, disenfranchise and eradicate Indigenous identities and sovereignty. In reality, the White Paper had a two-fold purpose which were; a) aid the Federal government in removing the category of “Indian” from legislation so that Indigenous people could become and develop a Canadian identity and; b) ensure that the government would no longer be held responsible for Indigenous people in Canada. For Trudeau his reforms and establishment of the White Paper were rooted in the fact that the Federal government no longer wanted to be in the “bedrooms of the people” but it was more about not wanting to be responsible for Indigenous people legally and financially any longer.

Kai Rajala

they/them - Kai Rajala is an independent researcher, writer and activist, who recently relocated to Tiohtià:ke/”Montreal” from the unceded Coast Salish territories colonially referred to as “Vancouver”.

Title: “Searching for Solidarities between Gay Liberation and Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination in 1970s ‘Canada’”

An earlier version of this paper was presented in April of 2018 at the “Toward a Queer Abolitionist Movement” conference at UNC Asheville. In an attempt to trouble the faulty and assumed logic of Canadian nation-state benevolence, my independent research posits the first significant contact between queer settler populations and the state as being inextricably tied to the suppression of Indigenous title and sovereignty. In 1969, just as the omnibus Criminal Law Amendment Act is being ushered in by Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s cabinet in an effort to decriminalize certain homosexual acts, we see the same government attempting to further dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands and resources and assimilate them into the nation-state with the White Paper proposal. My paper makes the claim that this early shift of homosexuality from criminal to social problem acts as the beginning of movement de-radicalization/liberalization that results in the incorporation of queer settlers into the project of Canadian nation-building. What follows is a gay liberation movement that rears itself in the direction of state recognition and rights acquisition, a shift that prompts the archivist to define “liberation”. Acknowledging that several chapters of the gay liberation movement had employed anti-statist/communist lenses in their activism, the paper is interested in uncovering whether gay liberation had any concept of anti-colonialism. It is invested in locating historical points of contact between gay liberation and Indigenous resurgence movements, and imagining collaborative prefiguration. 

Judy Rebick

Judy Rebick is a life-long feminist activist and the author of six books including Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Feminist Revolution and most recently a memoir Heroes in My Head.

“The Omnibus Bill on Abortion: Sabotage or a Step Forward?”

To protest the restrictive abortion provisions in the Omnibus Bill a group of women met in Vancouver and planned a protest.  What became known as the abortion caravan travelled across the country with stops in major cities ending in Ottawa with an occupation of the gallery that shut down Parliament for 90 minutes.  The action did not lead to changes in the bill but it did mark the beginning of a radical  cross-country women's movement. The reaction to the bill established a national pro-choice movement that would succeed in striking down the law twenty years later.

Rebecca Rose

she/her - Freelance Writer, Toronto, Member of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU)

Title: “Before the Parade: Early Gay/Lesbian Liberation Organizing in Halifax”

"In May of 1972 a group of gay and lesbian people living in Halifax, Nova Scotia started meeting in the local gay bar, Thee Klub, under the auspices of forming a “gay liberation group”. The first meetings of what would become the Gay Alliance for Equality (G.A.E.) were held a mere three years after the Stonewall rebellion and the omnibus Criminal Code reform bill, two after the formation of the Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT) and the Association of Canadian transexuals (ACT), and one after both the first issue of the Body Politic and the We Demand demonstration. Throughout the 1970s and early 80s gays and lesbians in Halifax were very much engaged in the wider/national movement for gay and lesbian liberation, often setting the pace; as was the case with G.A.E.’s fight against CBC censorship, which prompted the first nationally coordinated gay protest in 1977. Nova Scotia activists played a central role both at home and away via attendance at national lesbian and NGRC conferences, G.A.E.’s community run gay bar come community centre The Turret, lesbian involvement in local feminist organizing such as the first Reclaim the Night marches, and the creation of space such as the Alternate Book Store, Maggies Farm (a lesbian back-to-the land project in Tatamagouche), the lesbian founded Halifax Women’s Co-op and much more. All of this may surprise those not familiar with Nova Scotia’s rich history of 2SLGBTQIA+ community and activism. 

Rebecca’s research into local LGB history for her upcoming book Before the Parade (Nimbus) includes interviews with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual elders who were active within the community in (and around) Halifax from the early 1970s (in the lead up to the formation of the G.A.E.) to the mid 1980s (specifically 1984, the year that the Metro Area Committee on AIDS incorporated, and AIDS activism came to the fore in the province.) It also includes information unearthed through both public and private archives, some of which has never been made public." 

Jamie Ross

he/him - Jamie Ross is a Montreal based queer community activist and visual artist and is curating an upcoming exhibition series of queer moving image with Media Queer disrupting the 1969 anniversary (Sum Gallery, Vancouver; CLGA, Toronto; MAI, Montréal).

Title: “Pour un Front gay à Montréal :Fomenting psychadelic gay radicalism in rock and roll publication Main Mise”

One of the first publications to include overtly queer and seuxally radical propaganda in the French language in Quebec is counterculture publication Main Mise, whose colourful gay liberation content pushes back on the mythology of homosexual respectability and privacy that was to follow in post Bill C-150 Quebec and Canada, espousing an intersectional cultural revolution. Pornographic, politically radical and soaked in hashish oil and acid references, it espoused exactly the opposite ideal that assimilationist gay activists and governments hoped for – radical social revolution - a rock and roll gay power mag which flies in the face of Canadian gay historiography of 1969 respectability politics. My analysis will focus on the countercultural aesthetic strategies of the creators.

Published under the moniker “l’organe québécois du rock international, de la pensée magique,et du gay sçavoir,” (the Quebecois organ of international rock, magical thought and gay knowledge), the seminal counterculture publication Main Mise surfaced mere months after the omnibus bill. It shared prison abolitionist politics and presented the platform of the fiercely radical Front de Libération Homosexuelle (FLH). It was brazen to publish this work in a city with then only one above-ground homophile organization, International Sex Equality Anonymous. Seventy-eight startlingly voluminous 300-page numbers from 1970-1978 were printed. The publishers were clearly well prepared to launch immediately as it was safer to do so in 1969. The radical queer importance of this publication deserves much more exposure than it has received as it profoundly interrupts narratives of radicalization of the queer community in Québec - in leather jackets and with cocks out.

Christabelle Sethna

she/her - Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, University of Ottawa and co-author of Just Watch Us: RCMP Surveillance of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Cold War Canada.”

"Seeing Red: The RCMP, the Abortion Caravan and the Omnibus Bill."

The Omnibus Bill's reforms to abortion legislation engendered a groundswell of resistance among fledging women's liberation groups, among them the Vancouver Women's Caucus (VWC) and the Toronto Women's Caucus (TWC). In protest, the VWC organized an Abortion Caravan that travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa to call attention to the restrictive new abortion law governing legal abortion access. A year later, the TWC also went to Parliament Hill to do the same. Documents obtained under Access to Information legislation show that the RCMP Security Service spied on both groups throughout their short existence, suspecting that they were fronts for Trotskyist organizations eager to build an action-oriented, mass socialist movement against capitalism. Yet the documents also show that there was considerable turmoil, especially within the TWC and the women's liberation movement as a whole, over the focus on abortion on demand and abortion law repeal.

Christine Sismondo

she/her - Christine Sismondo, PhD is a Toronto writer, historian and  author. She’s working on getting her dissertation (York University, 2017), Toronto the Gay: The Formation of a Queer Counterpublic in Public Drinking Spaces, 1947-1981, into some kind of shape for publication.

 "Taverns and Tabloids: Tracking Changing Conversations and Tone from 1950-1981."

An elaborate and nuanced conversation developed between the tabloids and public drinking spaces in Toronto between 1950 and 1980. The subjects and tone of the conversation change dramatically over that time period, though—some of which can be attributed to demographics, a shifting media landscape and the emergence of a more overt and confrontational queer activism. Can some of it be attributed to the change in laws? This presentation will explore that possibility by discussing Toronto bars and their relationship with both tabloid columns and mainstream media.

Shannon Stettner

she/her - Shannon Stettner teaches in Women’s Studies at the University of Waterloo and is the editor of , Without Apology: Writings on Abortion in Canada (Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2016)

Title: “The 1969 Omnibus Bill and Forced Reproductive Labour”

Writing in 1992, feminist philosopher Christine Overall observed of the Therapeutic Abortion Committees (TAC) established by the 1969 omnibus bill, that when a TAC denied a request for an abortion (or when there was no TAC established in which a woman could even submit a request), said woman "had a legal obligation to procreate; it sentenced them to forced reproductive labour." Since then, scholars have written more favourably of the 1969 legislation, viewing it as a liberalizing moment. In this paper, I will review the movement away from a more critical perception of the omnibus bill and will argue for a return to language used by Overall. Forced birth, like forced sterilization, is reproductive oppression and needs to be so labelled and examined within the power systems and structures under which it operates.

Amy Verhaeghe

they/them - Amy Verhaeghe is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist, & Women’s Studies at York University. Their doctoral research investigates the racist foundations of queer inclusion in Canada.

Title: “Rethinking ‘Progressive’ Reform: The Racialization and Canada’s 1969 Partial Decriminalization of Anal Sex.”

While gay and lesbian histories of Canada frequently construct Alfred Kinsey’s studies of “homosexuality,” the findings of the Wolfenden committee, the Supreme Court’s Klippert v. The Queen ruling, and pressure from homophile activists as the conditions of possibility for the decriminalization of private acts of anal sex between consenting adults, I explore how racialized and colonial logics also underwrote and enabled the Canadian state’s move towards the toleration of queerness. I examine House of Commons transcripts produced between 1967 and 1969, and focus my analysis on Orientalist constructions of Muslim sexualities, parallels between assimilationist logics of the White Paper and those in MPs’ discussions of Indigenous people, and MPs’ constructions of Canadian children and young people as white. I argue that the debates reveal that sexuality became a forum through which racial anxieties could be articulated and Canadian whiteness could be reconfigured as benevolent, tolerant, and innocent.

Matthew Waites

he/they - Matthew Waites is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Title: “Who was Criminalised and Who was Decriminalised? Re-assessing the British empire’s criminalisation of same-sex sexualities and non-binary genders.”

This paper will consider Canada’s partial decriminalisation of same-sex sexual acts in international perspective, in the context of the British empire and continuing criminalisation in the Commonwealth (cf. C. Lennox and M.Waites Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth, 2013).   Since the groundbreaking Human Rights Watch report This Alien Legacy: The Origins of ‘Sodomy’ Laws in British Colonialism, in 2008, it has become the orthodoxy in transnational intersectional queer activism to argue that the British empire sought to criminalise the sexualities of colonised populations.  Such views have been echoed both by LGBTI Commonwealth commentators such as Michael Kirby, from Australia; and by southern LGBTI activists and intellectuals in regions like Africa, who have emphasised that homophobia rather than homosexuality was the colonial import. However, this paper questions such analyses, particularly by arguing that more attention is needed to the use of customary law by the British, often with a discourse of ‘indirect rule’.  Drawing from original archival research on Kenya in the British Library, covering both prosecution statistics and reviews of customary law for different ethnic groups, it will be argued that criminal prosecutions were largely applied to the colonizing population, yet hardly to indigenous groups.  This requires us to conceptualise governmentality and biopower in a new way.  Drawing on existing research in Canada, the paper will compare Kenya and Canada.  In this way, informed by the new global historical sociology and decolonizing analyses, we can seek to distinguish whether it was colonizers, indigenous peoples or both who were criminalised, both in law and in policing practices.  This will then tell us something new about who was decriminalised in 1969, also with wider international implications.        

Rinaldo Walcott

he/him - Professor, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Title: “The Black 1960s: Black Life After Sir George Williams and Other Stories of the Nation.”

This paper puts the 1969 Criminal Code Reform in conversation with Black movements for liberation and their intersection in Canada. The paper grapples with unspoken and unaccounted for confluences of social movements and the resulting silences as well. The paper asks the question: what if the 1960s is read through Black Canada what might we learn, what might we have to rethink? The paper takes the Sir George Williams Affair (1968-69) as the starting point to offer a different account both theoretical and empirical of the (Black) 1960s in Canada.