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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Queer Ontario Responds to the Tory Omnibus Crime Bill

December 6th, 2011 No comments

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Tory’s Tough on Crime Bill may be Tough on Consensual Sex, says Queer Ontario

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The Harper government’s harsh and ideologically motivated “tough on crime” omnibus legislation, Bill C-10 (The Safe Streets and Communities Act), contains a new provision that may be tough on consensual sex if the police and the courts decide to use it to keep sex strictly confined to the bedrooms of the nation.  An amendment to s. 173.(1) of the Criminal Code (indecent acts) will make it possible for anyone who “willfully does an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons” to be found guilty of an indictable offence and be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years.  This marks a significant change from the current s. 173.(1) which designates “indecent act” as a summary conviction offence for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for not more than six months.  The amendment will give a Crown prosecutor the discretion to determine whether to proceed with a case against someone charged with the offence as a summary conviction offence or an indictable offence.
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“The problem with the ‘indecent act’ section of the Criminal Code, all along, has been its vagueness as to just what constitutes an ‘indecent act’ because that term is not defined in the Criminal Code,” says Richard Hudler, of Queer Ontario. “It is left completely to the police, in terms of laying charges, and to the courts, in terms of a finding of guilt, to determine whether a place is ‘public’ and whether an act committed in that place is ‘indecent’”.
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What constitutes a “public place” is equally vague.  S. 150 of the Criminal Code defines it as including “any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied.”  People of any gender could be charged and convicted of an “indecent act” for engaging in consenting sexual acts on a beach, in a park, in a parked car, at a sex party or in a bathhouse. Historically, police have laid indecent act charges during raids on bathhouses and sex clubs and against people having sex in secluded places in parks late at night.  Even a sex party with invitations and advertising could be argued to be a public place and could be raided by the police, with indecent act charges being laid against the participants they find having sex. Queer liberation groups have long called for the abolition of the “indecent act” offence because of the way in which it has been used to target and repress consensual sex and to enforce morality.
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“Now, the Harper government, in a gesture clearly aimed at catering to its social conservative constituency and their anti-sex morality agenda, is about to make a vague and odious law even more severe,” Richard Hudler states.  “It is appalling and deplorable that adults engaging in consensual sex could potentially be sent to prison for up to two years. This amendment to s.173.(1) must be defeated.”
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Contact:
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Richard Hudler
info@queerontario.org
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Download: Queer Ontario Omnibus Crime Bill Statement
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Letter to Councillor Karen Stintz regarding the TTC’s Request Stop Program

September 28th, 2011 No comments

The following letter was sent to Karen Stintz, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 16 and current Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, regarding the gender-specificity of the TTC’s Request Stop Program.

The correspondence between Andy Vatiliotou and the TTC can be found on his Facebook Group, Safety for All — A Demand to Modify the TTC’s Request Stop Program.
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Categories: Releases Tags: , , , ,

We (Still) Demand!

August 30th, 2011 No comments

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On August 28, 2011 Queer Ontario graced the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa to commemorate the 40th anniversary of We Demand, the first nation-wide rally in Canada where gay men and women got together to demand legal and social reforms from the federal government. As John Wilson, an original member of the rally, noted in his keynote speech on Sunday: while a number of reforms have been achieved in the 40 years since 1971, there is still a lot of prejudice that needs to be challenged and abolished, particularly on the part of government. This includes the government’s refusal to extend human rights protections to transsexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, as well as its insistence on criminalizing HIV transmission.

Indeed, it is worth remembering that the extension of marriage rights to same-sex or same-gender couples did not finalize the struggle for queer and trans rights but, rather, re-invigorated it, as we now fight for the rights of those who are marginalized by the expectation to marry and privatize our sexualities; and those whose identities, relationships and livelihoods have yet to be recognized and accommodated by government.

Special thanks go out to Susan Gapka, Michael Burtch, Melanie Pasztor, and Brent Bauer for lending us their voices and their words of inspiration in highlighting all the work that needs to be done to create a trans-embracing, queer-loving, and sex-positive Canada. A very special thanks to A.J. Lowik for giving voice to our Demands list; as well as the over 100 people who attended the rally and shared their demands and their experiences of discrimination with us.