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For many local queer people, the arrests in Marie Curtis Park felt like all over. By Tom Hooper. Photo by Declan Keogh.

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But for queer people gays cruising for sex to cruise, that can mean increased police surveillance and possible criminalization. Last fall, members of the Toronto Police conducted a six-week undercover investigation in Marie Curtis Park called Project Marie, which concluded with 71 individuals cited for engaging in acts of consensual sex.

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T he key problem is that there is a long history of police unapologetically targeting men having sex with men in Toronto parks. Gross indecency, the provision gays cruising for sex gay sex, was not removed from the Criminal Code until The limitations of yays reform were highlighted by a group of queer activists, who marched on Parliament Hill in August in the pouring rain.

Via activehistory.

High Park was another site of police surveillance. Inpolice officers conducted patrols and approached single men to ask if they had ever been convicted of gross indecency.

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If the individual was honest and answered yes, the officer charged him with vagrancy. Community activists became aware that police were using lesser charges to elicit a guilty plea. Fearing the publicity of trial, and gays cruising for sex cost of legal representation, most of these men pleaded guilty.

This often resulted in a recorded conviction, as well as a police record.

To combat this, CHAT formed a court worker program that cruisnig free legal assistance to anyone charged for having gay sex. Despite this effort, many men continued to plead guilty.

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Davidson ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. A foggy Allan Gardens.

He noticed that there were several men sitting around, including a man named Alan McMurray, whom he did not yet know. The two forr eye contact and walked into the bushes. These men were police agentswho charged Britton and McMurray with gross indecency. They fought their charges and won, due to reasonable doubt as to whether the officer witnessed anything gays cruising for sex.

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Allan Gardens has historically been known as a space for sex. The benches, trees, and bushes behind the greenhouse made for a popular spot in the s. Perhaps one of the most shocking instances of police surveillance during this gays cruising for sex was in David Balfour Park.

With winding paths and ravines, this space was ideal for gay cruising during late summer nights. I could smell the gunpowder.

Five men were arrested and charged with gross indecency and indecent acts.

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My happy ending massage police agent, Richard Dionne, sx responsible for discharging his firearm three times into the ground. Inspired in part by the CHAT court worker program, a group called the Right to Privacy Committee gays cruising for sex formed to organize the legal defence of those charged in the baths.

After these trials concluded inthe group formed a new organization called Gay Court Watch, with an expanded mandate to include anyone charged for gays cruising for sex consensual sex, including in public parks. February 5,plain clothed and uniformed Toronto police officers, carrying crowbars and sledgehammers, raid four gay bathhouses, a culmination of a six-month undercover operation known as Operation Soap.

Photos by Gerald Hannon via of Pride Toronto.

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In Septemberlaw journalist Arnold Bruner published an official inquiry into the relationship between the gay community and the police. T his was a serious community concern, Bruner notes.

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Toronto was not alone in these targeted police operations. In the summer offour men were charged with gross indecency at Nepean Point.

Gays of Ottawa activist Yvon Thivierge witnessed the incident and was punched in the face by an arresting officer. Swieswerda proceeded with the arrest. The location of the current battle over sdx in public spaces, Marie Curtis Park, was not immune to the Toronto gays cruising for sex police of the s and s.

Provincial Court Judge V. The fate of those charged in the recent arrests is still unknown, and gays cruising for sex is concern that the police will continue or expand these undercover park operations against queers this coming summer.

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Activists and lawyers have formed a group to provide legal coordination to those charged. Queers Bays the Beat are continuing this battle from the s, and they deserve our support.

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Tom Hooper is a historian of queer Toronto in the s and s. An earlier version of this article appears at Activehistory. Click here to learn .