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Queer Ontario’s Deputation on the Police Treatment of LGBTQ Persons During the G20

June 2nd, 2011

On Wednesday, June 1st, 2011,  Queer Ontario delivered a deputation to the Independent Civilian Review into Matters Relating to the G20 Summit, which was launched by the Toronto Police Services Board on September 23, 2010 to look into the policing strategy that was employed by the Toronto Police Service during the G20. Headed by John W. Morden,  a former Associate Chief Justice for the Province of Ontario, and guided by the Terms of References outlined here, the Review will present a report with a set of recommendations to the Police Services Board which will determine:

(1) the role the Board played in the planning of the police strategy for the G20 Summit;
(2) the role the Toronto Police Service played during the G20 police strategy; and
(3) whether or not the plans that were developed and implemented were adequate and effective for the proper policing of the Summit.

There are still tho hearing sessions left — one on the 6th, and another on the 13th — so feel free to register at http://g20review.ca/hearings.html if you wish to depute.

Also, do note that while the reviewers are asking deputants to focus on the question of the role civilian oversight should have in determining the policing strategies of major events, they also appear to be accepting deputations on other G20-related issues, so please take the time to share your insights.

Queer Ontario’s deputation can be previewed and downloaded here:

For a text-only version, click onRead More.

Queer Ontario’s Submission to the Independent Civilian Review into Matters Relating to the G20 Summit

June 1, 2011

Good evening. My name is Casey Oraa and I’m the Chair of the Political Action Committee for Queer Ontario — a provincial network of gender and sexually diverse individuals who are committed to questioning, challenging, and reforming the laws and institutional practices that regulate queer people.

We have always been vehemently opposed to the unreasonable and unbridled tactics that were used to police the G20 Summit in Toronto — an opposition that stems not only from the way in which the Government of Ontario secretly amended the Public Works Protection Act (an Act that has been ordered to be repealed by former Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry), but also from the way in which the Toronto Police mistreated perfectly peaceful protesters and by-standers, resorting to horrendously sexist and homophobic language while doing so.

Take the case of 18-year-old Dan Hamilton, for example.

In a video posted on Rabble.ca,1 Dan details how he became entangled in the mass arrests at the Novotel Hotel as a bystander who stopped to watch the activity that was unfolding in the area. As the officers closed in on the crowds, he realized he was being trapped and attempted to leave before things escalated; however, he was intercepted by an officer who told him that he was already given a chance to leave the area, which was not true. Upon informing the police officer that he was never made aware of this chance to leave, he was unwarrantedly pushed and threatened with a tear gas gun, and arrested, alongside the other bystanders who were also caught within the police enclosure.

He was taken to the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre where he found himself being detained under inhumane conditions. This included an inadequate provision of water or food, unclean and publicly exposed washroom facilities, and the lack of information with regard to police procedures or the status of his detention, which lasted 26 hours. But of greatest concern to us was Dan’s subjection to differential treatment and homophobic taunts because of his sexual orientation.

That is: upon mentioning his boyfriend, who was arrested alongside him and held at the same detention centre, he was told by an officer that “the people in here don’t really take too kind to your type, so I recommend you act straight during your visit here” — a comment that, while seemingly ‘protective,’ was intended as a way of keeping Dan from displaying any so-called ‘homosexual tendencies’ instead of protecting him from any homophobic attacks, as police officers are obliged to do. And to make matters worse: Dan and his boyfriend were then moved to a single-person cell, which Dan describes as being a ‘dog pen,’ which were used to house other LGBTQ persons. More specifically: a lesbian couple and two other women who didn’t identify as lesbians but were segregated due to their perception as such by police officers.

Aside from being a reprehensible violation of Section Ten of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such a practice is grossly discriminatory in the way it targeted individuals and subjected them to less humane treatment because of their disclosed or perceived sexual orientation. But this was not an isolated incident…

While reporting on the arrest of two other journalists, Lisa Walter of Our Times Magazine was arrested on June 26th and subjected to similar treatment. According to a statement she provided to Xtra:2

“We had shown our press passes; officers said mine was fake. I was called a ‘fucking dyke,’ a ‘douchebag’ and other slurs by officers…The most aggressive sergeant loudly questioned my gender and started calling me ‘sir’ and ‘mister.’ He mocked my need for medication and later claimed I was the ‘girl in high school who never got laid.’”

Indeed, much like the views of the police officer at York University who gave the judgmental and oppressive statement on the fate of women who wear less-than-conservative outfits (the infamous “women should avoid dressing like sluts if they don’t want to be victimized” comment), we wonder how many officers hold the  deplorable “you shouldn’t act like the homo if you don‘t want to get beat up” views expressed by the officer overseeing Dan’s detention, or the “you’re a dyke because you didn’t get laid in high school” views expressed by Lisa’s officer. For while it can certainly be argued that these are comments made by a few so-called ‘bad apples’ within the Toronto Police force, the fact that the officers made these comments under unsupervised situations, and during a period when police officers were legally given free reign to treat detainees as they saw fit, seems to indicate that these views are more pervasive within the police force than not; which is unfortunate given that LGBTQ communities have been fighting for over four decades to be seen as full citizens by police forces nation-wide, and to be provided the same level of police protection afforded to our heterosexual counterparts. Especially against the discrimination and violence that comes about because of people’s intolerance towards our public displays of affection or unconventional expressions of gender.

Needless to say, this is a major step backwards for a police force that has always lauded itself for having a good relationship withToronto’s LGBTQ communities — at least in its public presentations and promotional materials. If this is still the case, then we are pressed to ask:

  • Why did police officers feel the need to treat LGBTQ individuals differently from the presumably straight detainees by placing them into single-person cells, even when allowed to be with their partners?
  •  Who were the Supervisors responsible for the behaviour of the discriminatory police officers at the detention centre, and do they recognize the discrimination that took place at the facilities?
  • If so, what steps have the Supervisors taken to discipline the offending officers?
  • And lastly, what actions can we expect from the Toronto Police Service to ensure that their police officers understand the discrimination we face as queer and trans people, that they treat us with the respect we deserve as citizens, and never engage in such vile behaviour again?

We have been asking these question for over a year now, and we are STILL waiting for an adequate answer — any answer, to be exact!


1. http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2010/06/features/exclusive-eighteen-year-old-toronto-g8g20-detainee-recounts-

2. http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Queer_journalist_seeks_answers_after_G20_nab- 8907.aspx

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