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St. John’s Pride considers banning Liberals and RNC after government rejects request for apology on Village Mall bathroom charges

Participants walk in the St. John’s Pride Parade in July 2017.
Participants walk in the St. John’s Pride Parade in July 2017. - The Telegram

LGBTQ group ponders participation ban

Premier Dwight Ball, members of his caucus and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary could be banned from participating in this year’s Pride Parade because of a dispute over an apology to the LGBTQ community.

From January to May 1993, the RNC targeted what they called a homosexual ring operating out of a Village Shopping Centre bathroom.

About 60 men were recorded via hidden camera performing various sexual acts. Of those caught on tape, 34 were charged with various crimes. Most had to pay fines related to the incidents.

Police initially said they were investigating accusations of pedophilia. No evidence of pedophilia was found during the investigation.

Many of the gay men were outed publicly. Some lost their jobs, while others took their own life.

St. John’s Pride co-chair Noah Davis-Power says he wants the government and police to apologize for the specific targeting of gay men in the sting operation.

“I was gob smacked when I was told by the deputy minister of Justice that the RNC would do this all over again in the same way. In 25 years, they’ve learned nothing and would continue to antagonize the LGBTQ community in the same way,” Davis-Power said.

“If they’re going to do this all over again, are they going to call it a homosexual ring? The same way they did back then?”

Work on the apology began in the summer, and a proposal was presented to Justice Minister Andrew Parsons in October.

Davis-Power says everything was going well, with a date set in February for the apology. On Thursday, he was told by the Department of Justice the apology would not go ahead.

St. John’s Pride is now considering whether sitting Liberal MHAs and uniformed RNC officers will be welcome at July’s Pride Parade.

“We expect more than just lip service in terms of ally participation,” Davis-Power said.

The Justice Department and the RNC declined comment on Friday.

Davis-Power says he is not defending public indecency.

“The issue with this case was the pretense of the investigation in the first place, the way it was characterized by police, how the investigative techniques were deemed not adequate for the courts and they said they’d do it all again,” he said.

One of the men appealed his conviction and won. The appeal was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1995.

While the judge maintained the act was indecent, the conviction was overturned because the person was alone in the washroom at the time that he was recorded. With no one else present, the act wasn’t public, the judge ruled.

In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to the LGBTQ community across Canada after a $100-million class-action lawsuit was settled. The settlement is for former military members and federal employees who were discriminated against due to their sexual orientation. Davis-Power was part of the team that worked on that apology.

In June 2016, Toronto police chief Mark Saunders apologized to the LGBTQ community for bathhouse raids by police in 1981 that resulted in the arrest of 300 men.

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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