June 21, 2001 04:03pm
Bathhouse Event Back After Police Raid
by: Jan Prout
SUMMARY: After police shut down last fall's women's bathhouse night, a group of Toronto lesbians tried again just days before being honored at this year's Dyke March.
(TORONTO) -- Love is the theme of this year's Toronto Gay Pride, and there was "a lotta lovin'" going on Wednesday night at the Club Toronto.
It was the first women's bathhouse event since police raided the club last September.
More than a hundred women checked into the club, at Mutual and Carlton Streets, Toronto's oldest continually running gay bath.
Some women were concerned police would make a return visit, "But were not going to let the cops stop us." one woman said, going in.
Another said she doubted police would raid the event again after the outcry following the last raid.
Nearly a dozen officers entered the club last fall, saying they were following up on a liquor complaint. The officers, all male, walked the halls where naked and semi-clad women had been enjoying the night, and each other.
For nearly two hours they questioned the women. But, no charges were made.
In the ensuing weeks lesbians and gays protested the raid at police headquarters demanding answers. They never got any, but in November, two members of the event's organizing group -- the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee -- were charged with liquor offences.
Their lawyer, Frank Addario said on Wednesday the charges will be fought in court in the fall, nearly a year after the event. They have also filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, charging police should have used only female officers in the hourlong raid and had no reason to stay so long.
They said also the raid was inconsistent with the way special occasion liquor permits are usually handled.
This time the women's event was without liquor, an effort to prevent police from using the same excuse to enter the club.
Organizers said Addario told them if police did come to the door of the building they should let them in.
Several of the officers behind last fall's raid have been transferred to another division. Toronto police refuse to say if the transfers stemmed from a report ordered by police chief Julian Fantino following the raid.
Fantino has been attempting to improve relations with the GLBT community, hosting his second annual Pride cocktail party for community leaders Thursday, another reason organizers of the bathhouse party believed they would be left alone.
Members of the Women's Bathhouse Committee are this year's honorees at Saturday's Dyke March.
For more Canadian and international GLBT news, visit 365Gay.com