“This is No Longer a Safe Place”

HO­MO­PHO­BIC POLIC­ING IN QUE­BEC, 2007-PRESENT

The McGill Daily - - Contents - ACAB BY con­tent warn­ing: ho­mo­pho­bic slurs, tar­geted ar­rests

On Au­gust 28 2017, the Ser­vice de Po­lice de la Ville de Mon­tréal (SPVM) of­fi­cially apol­o­gized for “the events that took place dur­ing dif­fer­ent po­lice op­er­a­tions in gay bars and clubs dur­ing the ‘60s to the ‘90s.” Em­pha­sis on bars and clubs. Pur­pose­ful omis­sion of parks and pub­lic wash­rooms. Ho­mo­pho­bic polic­ing prac­tices on the is­land of Mon­treal are far from over. With the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Ser­vices des Grands Parcs, three neigh­bour­hood po­lice sta­tions in Mon­treal have launched co­or­di­nated at­tacks on men who use the wooded ar­eas and pub­lic wash­rooms of parks for the pur­poses of con­sen­sual sex­ual en­coun­ters with other men. Sim­i­lar pro­jects have been launched by the Ser­vice de Po­lice la Ville de Longueuil (SPAL), the Ser­vice de Po­lice de la Ville de Sague­nay (SPVS), the Ser­vice de Po­lice de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ), and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

Us­ing their knowl­edge of gay cruis­ing prac­tices, plain­clothes cops con­tinue to ha­rass, ticket, and ar­rest men who seek out sex­ual com­pan­ion­ship in places other than those of­fi­cially rec­og­nized and legally sanc­ti­fied by het­ero­sex­ist sex­ual norms. Hav­ing co-opted our shared un­der­stand­ing of lo­ca­tion, plain­clothes cops are able to ex­ploit, in a dis­crete, and largely un­force­ful man­ner, our need for af­fec­tion and sex­ual com­pan­ion­ship.

The num­ber of ar­rests made within the con­text of these sup­pos­edly gen­der- and sex­u­al­ity-neu­tral “anti-in­de­cency” op­er­a­tions is alarm­ing. To­gether, the SPVM, the SPAL, and the SPVQ have ar­rested at least 300 men for cruis­ing in pub­lic spa­ces since 2007. I say “at least” be­cause the sta­tis­tics ob­tained by fil­ing ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion re­quests with these po­lice ser­vices did not in­clude sta­tis­tics for cer­tain pro­jects or years. Equally as strik­ing are the sums of money that the Ser­vice des Grands Parcs has spent try­ing to make parks on the is­land of Mon­treal less at­trac­tive to men who have sex with men. A con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate sug­gests a sum of ap­prox­i­mately 2.2 mil­lion dol­lars.

Knowl­edge of gay cruis­ing prac­tices has made it re­mark­ably easy for pri­vate se­cu­rity forces and po­lice ser­vices to en­trap men who have sex with men. Thwart­ing their abil­ity to do so re­quires that we un­der­stand the tac­tics that po­lice ser­vices use in or­der to en­trap us while cruis­ing. For rea­sons that will be ex­plained be­low, po­lice ser­vices in this prov­ince tend to make use of sec­tions 173(1) and 271(1) of the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code when hunt­ing down men who have sex with men. Crim­i­nal code ac­cu­sa­tions are not the only tac­tics cur­rently be­ing used by cops to ha­rass men who have sex with men. In an un­der­handed at­tempt to mask the ho­mo­pho­bic na­ture of their re­pres­sive op­er­a­tions, Longueuil po­lice have started us­ing a seem­ingly mun­dane mu­nic­i­pal by­law to crack down on men hav­ing sex with men in pub­lic spa­ces.

MODUS OPERANDI

Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der sec­tion 173(1) of the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code

Cur­rently, Sec­tion 173(1) is the most com­mon ac­cu­sa­tion be­ing made against against gay men in the prov­ince of Que­bec. Sec­tion 173(1) makes il­le­gal the wil­ful per­for­mance of “an in­de­cent act in a pub­lic place in the pres­ence of one or more per­sons, or in any place with in­tent to in­sult or of­fend any per­son.” Sec­tion 173(1) takes af­ter its now re­pealed pre­de­ces­sor,

sec­tion 157, which pro­hib­ited acts of “gross in­de­cency” and was al­most ex­clu­sively used for the pur­poses of per­se­cut­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als. Like sec­tion 157, sec­tion 173(1) is ter­mi­no­log­i­cally vague; the term “in­de­cency” is (pur­pose­fully?) left un­de­fined. This fea­ture of sec­tion 173(1) has made it the weapon par ex­cel­lence of ho­mo­pho­bic po­lice in the prov­ince. Draw­ing on an anal­y­sis of a ho­mo­pho­bic po­lice sting pub­lished in the De­cem­ber 1980/Jan­uary 1981 is­sue of La Ber­dache, and on mu­nic­i­pal court rul­ings de­scrib­ing these stings, we have done our best to ex­pose the strat­egy of un­der­cover cops who lay charges of “in­de­cency” un­der sec­tion 173(1).

The first step to any “suc­cess­ful” op­er­a­tion in­volves se­lect­ing a known gay cruis­ing ground; how­ever, in most, if not all cases, the se­lec­tion process can be com­pletely fore­gone thanks to a het­ero­sex­ist pub­lic that ac­tively re­ports sight­ings of men en­gaged in “in­de­cent” ac­tiv­i­ties with other men (or so po­lice say). Once a cruis­ing ground has been se­lected, the of­fi­cer, now in plain­clothes, picks a spot and loi­ters (sex­ily?). Though he is ob­vi­ously not in­ter­ested in any form of sex­ual ex­change, the “suc­cess” of the op­er­a­tion de­pends upon his abil­ity to con­vince other cruis­ers that he is in­ter­ested in hav­ing a sex­ual en­counter. To avoid be­ing ac­cused of entrapment, how­ever, the cop can­not ex­press this in­ter­est ver­bally (if he does, the courts are much more likely to see through his lit­tle game); in­stead, he ex­presses his in­ter­est by pur­pose­fully fail­ing to ob­ject to the non-ver­bal sex­ual propo­si­tion­ing of other cruis­ers, as well as by stay­ing put and tak­ing on the role of the pas­sive, voyeuris­tic ob­server.

Let us re­call that for charges to be laid un­der sec­tion 173(1), two re­quire­ments must be ful­filled. First, an “in­de­cent” act must take place. Sec­ond, this “in­de­cent” act must be com­mit­ted in the pres­ence of “one or more per­sons” or “with the in­tent to in­sult or of­fend any per­son.” Though “in­de­cency” is left un­de­fined, an ex­am­i­na­tion of two re­cent court cases in which po­lice laid charges of “in­de­cency” against gay men sug­gest that po­lice un­der­stand this term to mean ex­po­sure of one’s gen­i­tal or­gans for the pur­pose of sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion. For this rea­son, the un­der­cover cop waits un­til the clothed fore­play is over and a sex­ual act be­gins to re­veal his true iden­tity. Once the cruiser has un­clothed the lower por­tion of his body, the first re­quire­ment of the “crime” has been ful­filled. As we have seen, for the ac­cu­sa­tion to hold in court, the sex­ual act must have been com­mit­ted in the pres­ence of “one or more per­sons.” This is where the sec­ond un­der­cover cop makes his ap­pear­ance. Af­ter hav­ing lurked un­no­ticed, he now ap­pears to wit­ness the sex­ual act. The sec­ond re­quire­ment is now ful­filled and a charge of “in­de­cency” can be laid against his un­sus­pect­ing vic­tim.

In many cases, how­ever, the re­quire­ment that the act be per­formed in front of “one or more per­sons” is given a lax in­ter­pre­ta­tion both by po­lice and the courts. In R. c. Martin, a 1997 court case in­volv­ing a plain­clothes cop and a cruiser in Parc An­grignon, Judge DENAULT slyly cir­cum­vents this re­quire­ment by ar­gu­ing that the plain­clothes cop was a mem­ber of the pub­lic at the time of the in­ter­ac­tion (how con­ve­nient!). For the plain­clothes se­cu­rity guard pro­vok­ing a sex­ual en­counter be­tween him­self and a cruiser in the wash­rooms of Mon­treal’s Ea­ton Cen­tre back in 2017, on its own, the fact that other peo­ple “au­raient pu voir le PRÉ se mas­turber” ( could have seen the de­fen­dant mas­tur­bat­ing) was seen as ful­fill­ing the (seem­ingly?) more strin­gent cri­te­rion that the act ac­tu­ally be per­formed in front of “one or more per­sons.”

Last year’s Ea­ton Cen­tre ar­rest, though it was car­ried out by a pri­vate se­cu­rity firm rather than by state agents, is char­ac­ter­is­tic of the kinds of op­er­a­tions car­ried out by plain­clothes cops in the prov­ince of Que­bec for the pur­poses of lay­ing ac­cu­sa­tions un­der sec­tion 173(1). For this rea­son, and for rea­sons that will soon be­come clear, this ar­rest it is worth dwelling upon a bit longer. Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice re­port writ­ten by the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, the events sur­round­ing the cruiser’s ar­rest hap­pened as fol­lows:

“We ar­rived at the Ea­ton Cen­ter to meet [REDACTED], head of Ea­ton Cen­tre se­cu­rity who in­formed us that the man was be­ing de­tained af­ter hav­ing mas­tur­bated in front of the uri­nals of the Ea­ton Cen­tre. He be­gan by ex­plain­ing to us that such be­hav­iour rep­re­sents an im­por­tant prob­lem in the Ea­ton Cen­tre. Since a few weeks, men have been show­ing up at the uri­nals in or­der to mas­tur­bate. They fre­quently make their way there in or­der to meet other men for the pur­poses of mas­tur­bat­ing in front of the uri­nals. Ac­cord­ing to the se­cu­rity guard, seven men have been caught per­form­ing in­de­cent ac­tions in the wash­rooms of the Ea­ton Cen­tre. In or­der to rem­edy [the ‘prob­lem’ of con­sen­sual sex­ual en­coun­ters be­tween men], [Ea­ton Cen­ter se­cu­rity] in­stalled cam­eras in the 3rd floor wash­rooms of the Ea­ton Cen­tre and a se­cu­rity guard works in plain­clothes in or­der to catch in­di­vid­u­als in the act.”[...] “Us­ing the cam­eras, they no­tice the de­fen­dant make his way to the uri­nals, around [TIME STAMP], lo­cated in the 3rd floor wash­rooms of the Ea­ton Cen­tre. They there­fore send their plain­clothes se­cu­rity guard [REDACTED]. [...] The de­fen­dant ex­changes a few glances with se­cu­rity guard [REDACTED]. About 2 or 3 min­utes later, the se­cu­rity guard no­tices the de­fen­dant’s erec­tion and that he is mak­ing thrust­ing move­ments while hold­ing his pe­nis, all the while look­ing at [REDACTED]. The se­cu­rity guard no­tices the man mas­tur­bat­ing. [...] When se­cu­rity guard [REDACTED] no­tices the de­fen­dant mas­tur­bat­ing, he ex­its the wash­room and com­mu­ni­cates with the se­cu­rity con­trol cen­tre in or­der to pro­ceed to the ar­rest of the de­fen­dant” [my em­pha­sis].

In or­der to ex­cul­pate the plain­clothes agent, the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer fudges the amount of time dur­ing which the cruiser and the plain­clothes agent ex­change glances. Video footage of the events show the plain­clothes agent ex­chang­ing glances with the man for a pe­riod of five to six min­utes – ex­chang­ing and hold­ing gaze is a com­mon way of de­ter­min­ing in­ter­est and con­sent. On his way out of the wash­rooms, the cruiser is tack­led to the ground by nu­mer­ous se­cu­rity guards—a fact that is con­ve­niently omit­ted from this in­ci­dent re­port. The re­port con­tin­ues:

“Agent X then asks the de­fen­dant why he comes to do this at the Ea­ton Cen­tre. The de­fen­dant re­sponds by say­ing that the wash­rooms at the Ea­ton Cen­tre rep­re­sent an im­por­tant meetup spot for ho­mo­sex­ual peo­ple wish­ing to have sex­ual ex­changes with men.” [...] “The Moral­ity divi­sion of the SPVM is aware of the prob­lem af­fect­ing the 3rd floor wash­rooms of the Ea­ton Cen­tre. It has been a re­cur­rent prob­lem for many weeks.” At the be­gin­ning of this re­port, se­cu­rity head X claims that the “prob­lem” of cruis­ing is a prob­lem that dates back only “a few weeks.” This claim is grossly mis­lead­ing. The ninth floor wash­rooms of Chez Ea­ton, the now ren­o­vated and re­named mall af­ter which Mon­treal’s Ea­ton Cen­tre is named and be­side which Mon­treal’s Ea­ton Cen­tre cur­rently stands, were used for cruis­ing as far back as the early ’80s. More up­set­ting, how­ever, is the way in which, a few mo­ments af­ter the cruiser in­forms X that the third floor wash­rooms in the Ea­ton Cen­tre are a well-known meetup spot, the of­fi­cer writ­ing the re­port reaf­firms in his clos­ing lines that the “prob­lem” of cruis­ing “has been a re­cur­rent prob­lem for many weeks.” The cops per­form­ing the ar­rest over­look the de­fen­dant’s at­tempt to his­tori­cize his ac­tion, choos­ing in­stead to re­assert the nar­ra­tive that has been fed to him by both se­cu­rity per­son­nel and the SPVM’S moral­ity divi­sion.

To cast the de­fen­dant as a threat to pub­lic safety, se­cu­rity and po­lice ac­tively sought to de­his­tori­cize the phe­nom­e­non of cruis­ing. To do so, they tell tales of men sud­denly flock­ing to pub­lic wash­rooms to en­gage in sex­ual be­hav­iours. The phrase “since a few weeks, men have been show­ing up at the uri­nals in or­der to mas­tur­bate” is so much more scary than the phrase “since first open­ing its doors, Ea­ton Cen­tre wash­rooms have served as a meet­ing ground for men seek­ing con­sen­sual sex­ual re­la­tions with other men.” By de­his­tori­ciz­ing the de­fen­dant’s act, se­cu­rity and po­lice ef­fec­tively polemi­cized the de­fen­dant’s act — an act that is oth­er­wise com­mon, mun­dane, harm­less, and dare I say, hot. When se­cu­rity and po­lice say that the “prob­lem” of cruis­ing is re­cent, what they really should be say­ing is that cruis­ing is a phe­nom­e­non that they have re­cently got­ten into the habit of prob­lema­tiz­ing.

Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der sec­tion 271(1) of the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code Po­lice in the prov­ince of Que­bec con­tinue to use charges of “sex­ual as­sault” to pun­ish men who en­gage in con­sen­sual sex­ual re­la­tions with other men. Po­lice doc­u­ments re­veal that be­tween the years of 2012 and 2013, the SPVM was ready to make use of this sec­tion of the crim­i­nal code within the con­text of at least two “anti-in­de­cency” pro­jects — on that tar­geted Parc An­grignon ( Opéra­tion Sen­tier) and the other that tar­geted Maison­neuve Park and le Boisé de Pères ( Opéra­tion Nar­cisse), all of which are well­known cruis­ing grounds. The SQ is known to have made use of this ar­ti­cle of the Crim­i­nal Code dur­ing its un­der­cover op­er­a­tions that took place back in 2010 on Île Melville — an­other gay cruis­ing ground.

Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der sec­tion 271(1) are made in much the same way as those that are made un­der sec­tion 173(1). A plain­clothes cop places him­self in or around a known cruis­ing ground and waits. This time, how­ever, he is not wait­ing for an un­sus­pect­ing cruiser to show him his gen­i­tals, nor is he wait­ing for his ac­com­plice to wit­ness any ex­hi­bi­tion­is­tic act. This time, he is wait­ing for the cruiser to touch him. Once the cruiser touches the cop, he

“He moved slowly, in a 90 de­gree arc-like fash­ion, back and forth, all the while look­ing at me with in­ter­est...”

—Anony­mous

is ar­rested, and a charge of sex­ual as­sault is laid.

The truth, how­ever, is that plain­clothes cops do not just “wait” for their vic­tims to “fall” into their traps; they ac­tively court them, mis­lead­ing and ma­nip­u­lat­ing them ev­ery step of the way. The fol­low­ing is the tes­ti­mony of a man who was ar­rested for “sex­ual as­sault” on a plain­clothes cop in the Parc de l’île Melville back in 2010. It does re­mark­able job at high­light­ing the kinds of mis­lead­ing fore­play that plain­clothes cops ac­tively en­gage in when try­ing to “catch” men who have sex with men. More than sim­ply loi­ter­ing around and wait­ing to be touched, the un­der­cover cop pur­pose­fully main­tains the gaze of his vic­tim, adamantly pur­sues him through the woods, en­gages him in friendly con­ver­sa­tion, con­ver­sa­tion­ally sug­gests that he is gay, and fi­nally, of­fers his vic­tim his ass:

“Be­fore leav­ing the park, around [ TIME STAMP], I re­turned to the first park­ing lot, for a few min­utes, to see if there were any men [...] It was close to [TIME STAMP] and I was about to leave the area when I saw [PLAIN­CLOTHES COP Z] ex­it­ing the woods. He looked in­ter­est­ing. I there­fore made my way to­wards him in a per­pen­dic­u­lar fash­ion so that he could see me. He saw me. Once we had made eye con­tact, I turned around, re­trac­ing my steps telling my­self that if he was gay and in­ter­ested he would come in my di­rec­tion. Which he did. We were about three me­ters dis­tance from one an­other, stand­ing up, with­out mov­ing, look­ing at each other dur­ing a few min­utes. He moved slowly, in a 90 de­gree arc-like fash­ion, back and forth, all the while look­ing at me with in­ter­est, but with a cer­tain de­gree of reser­va­tion. This in­ter­ac­tion lasted about 5 to 10 min­utes. Be­cause I was con­scious of the fact that I was older than him, I in­ter­preted his hes­i­ta­tion to ap­proach me as a sign that af­ter hav­ing seen me close-up, he was no longer in­ter­ested in me and did not know how to leave with­out of­fend­ing me. So, I de­cided to walk away from him in or­der to give him the chance to ei­ther part ways with me or to fol­low me if he was in­ter­ested.

In or­der to do this, I had to pass in front of him and he took ad­van­tage of this mo­ment to speak to me, say­ing: ‘ there [aren’t] many peo­ple.’ I an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive, all the while mak­ing my way away from him and from the place where we found our­selves [...] In this way, I be­gan a walk of al­most one hun­dred me­ters south-west into the woods [...] to be cer­tain that he was in­ter­ested in me, and to, in this way, avoid any mis­un­der­stand­ings. At first, I thought that he had gone, be­cause I no longer saw him, so I slowed my pace and fi­nally, af­ter a de­lay of about two min­utes, I could see him start­ing to fol­low me. While walk­ing, I looked be­hind my­self many times to see if he was fol­low­ing me, which he was. [...] I stopped to drink some water and to let him catch up with me. In­deed, he caught up with me and we started a friendly con­ver­sa­tion that lasted a cou­ple min­utes. We were a few feet from one an­other. [...] I asked him if he was aware of the fact that this area was a known area for ho­mo­sex­ual en­coun­ters and he re­sponded in the af­fir­ma­tive. I asked him how he came about this knowl­edge. He re­sponded by telling me that he had found this in­for­ma­tion on­line at gay411.com [...] There was a malaise be­tween us be­cause nei­ther one of us was mak­ing any moves and we were just stand­ing there, wait­ing.

There­fore, af­ter a few min­utes of con­ver­sa­tion and of in­de­ci­sion, I asked him ‘ what do we do now’ in or­der to de­ter­mine what his ex­pec­ta­tions were. He an­swered by say­ing that he was‘ un­com­fort­able and didn’t know what to do in such cir­cum­stances’. I then told him that we could at least em­brace one an­other. Strangely, he turned his back to me while con­tin­u­ing to face me, as if he was of­fer­ing me his ass. I found his be­hav­iour strange be­cause I had only sug­gested that we em­brace. In the con­text of gay cruis­ing, though, there are ‘bot­toms’ who are sub­mis­sive, pas­sive, and be­have in this man­ner. I took one or two steps in his di­rec­tion and put my right hand on his back, bring­ing him against me, gen­tly, but firmly, all the while say­ing ‘no, come here’. We em­braced one an­other, as one gives a hug [...] To show him that I took the in­ter­est that he had pre­vi­ously man­i­fested se­ri­ously, I dared a more in­ti­mate ca­ress, slid­ing my right hand down his body to­wards his sex— over his pants [...] But as soon as he felt the con­tact of my hand get­ting close to his gen­i­tals, he pushed me back and told me that I was un­der ar­rest for sex­ual as­sault, show­ing me his po­lice badge on which I saw the name [COP’S NAME].”

Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der ar­ti­cle 4.08a of mu­nic­i­pal by­law no. 81-1923 (City of Longueuil)

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code is not the only body of law cur­rently be­ing used to le­git­imize the mis­treat­ment of men who have sex with men by state agents. Mu­nic­i­pal codes and park reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing “in­de­cent” or “ob­scene” con­duct, play an im­por­tant role in this le­git­i­ma­tion.

The fol­low­ing tes­ti­mony comes from a man who was tick­eted by a plain­clothes cop for hav­ing vi­o­lated ar­ti­cle 4.08a of mu­nic­i­pal by­law no. 81-1923 — a mu­nic­i­pal by­law that pro­hibits the per­for­mance of “ob­scene” or “in­de­cent acts.”

“I was cruis­ing in [PARK NAME], in the park­ing lot close to [AREA NEARBY]. A plain­clothes cop was wait­ing in his car. He tried ev­ery­thing to make me be­lieve that he was gay. The tango lasted close to 30 or 40 min­utes. See­ing as I wasn’t do­ing any­thing, he be­gan to wan­der around my car, smil­ing at me. I was rub­bing my in­ner thigh, never my gen­i­tals. See­ing that I was still not do­ing any­thing rep­re­hen­si­ble (I was very much on my guards), he then ap­proached the driver side door that I had left open (it was hot and this would al­low me to more eas­ily en­ter into con­tact with him if things took a turn in that di­rec­tion) and pointed his crotch in my di­rec­tion. I took this as an in­vi­ta­tion to touch him. I touched his in­ner thigh just above his knee and he im­me­di­ately took out his badge, telling me that I was guilty of com­mit­ting an act of gross in­de­cency” [my em­pha­sis]. Though “gross in­de­cency” — sec­tion 157 of the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code crim­i­nal — was re­pealed in 1988, Longueuil po­lice con­tinue to use this term to des­ig­nate the charges they lay against gay men in parks. This sys­tem­atic mis­nam­ing is no er­ror. Mu­nic­i­pal reg­u­la­tions, like the ar­ti­cle 4.08a, serve the same re­pres­sive func­tion that sec­tion 157 did be­fore it was re­pealed: that of pun­ish­ing the ex­is­tence and ex­pres­sion of non­hetero­sex­ual de­sires.

Longueuil po­lice are not the only ones en­gaged in this sys­tem­atic mis­nam­ing of charges. Last month, in an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled Parc La­fontaine: un «oeil mag­ique» dans une salle de toi­lettes publique, the term was tellingly, but ir­re­spon­si­bly, tossed around both by Philippe Teis­ceira-lessard, the La Presse jour­nal­ist writ­ing the piece and by Anik de Re­pentigny, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the City of Mon­treal.

Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der ar­ti­cle 5.03 of mu­nic­i­pal by­law no. 81-1923 (City of Longueuil)

In 2016, Longueuil po­lice con­vinced city coun­cil to pass a law mak­ing it il­le­gal to walk on un­marked trails in four Longueuil parks, at least two of which are es­tab­lished gay cruis­ing grounds. Their idea was sim­ple. Cruis­ing re­quires that men who have sex with men be able to ac­cess the less vis­i­ble wooded ar­eas of parks. Ac­cess­ing these ar­eas re­quires men who have sex with men to make use of un­marked trails. Cut off ac­cess to these trails and the cruis­ing will stop.

The fol­low­ing “state­ment of of­fence” which de­tails the events lead­ing up the tick­et­ing of a gay man in Au­gust of 2017 on Île Char­ron does a strik­ingly good job at high­light­ing the ho­mo­pho­bic im­pe­tus be­hind this law.

“Where I was: Un­der­cover op­er­a­tion in plain­clothes on l’île Char­ron, a lo­ca­tion re­puted for sex­ual ex­changes be­tween men in the un­marked trails. What I saw: I find my­self at the end of the park­ing lot, in the hair­pin bend. The de­fen­dant looks at me, I look at him. He there­fore parks his car im­me­di­ately in the park­ing lot right be­side. I then make my way through the green space nearby, he ex­its his ve­hi­cle and fol­lows me, I en­ter an un­cleared wooded area where the veg­e­ta­tion is dense. The city does not main­tain this area, in or­der to gain ac­cess to this area, I have to clear a path with my hands. The de­fen­dant fol­lows me into this area and says to me: the paths are not like they used to be. He cir­cu­lates in the un­marked path for a pe­riod of five min­utes be­fore re­turn­ing to his ve­hi­cle, in­ter­cepted while he was re-en­ter­ing his ve­hi­cle.” As if the first sen­tence of his state­ment were not in­crim­i­nat­ing enough, the plain­clothes cop then goes on to make ex­plicit ref­er­ence to his use of the gaze — a gay cruis­ing prac­tice that has been widely doc­u­mented by, among so many oth­ers, Hen­ning Beck and Mau­riz Len­zoff. As the above ex­cerpt makes clear, the cur­rent tac­tics used by un­der­cover cops hop­ing to lay charges un­der ar­ti­cle 5.03 of by­law no. 81-1923 are near-iden­ti­cal to those used to by un­der­cover cops hop­ing to lay charges of “in­de­cency” or “sex­ual as­sault.”

To lis­ten to pre­vi­ously un­re­leased au­dio in which a plain­clothes de­scribes his weekly sting, tune into CKUT 90.3 FM to­mor­row Novem­ber 6 at 5pm. The au­dio will also be avail­able on CKUT’S Sound­cloud af­ter the show has aired. Ac­cu­sa­tions un­der other mu­nic­i­pal by-laws and other hokey and vi­o­lent tac­tics

Longueuil po­lice are not the only ones mak­ing use of seem­ingly un­re­lated mu­nic­i­pal by­laws for the pur­poses of white­wash­ing their moral­ity cam­paigns against men who have sex with men. In 2017, the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lor of Sague­nay, Marc Pet­tersen, had plans to pass a by­law that would make it il­le­gal to park one’s car near Parc de la Colline, a well-known cruis­ing ground. This seem­ingly be­nign by­law will make it pos­si­ble for SPVS agents to ha­rass men who have sex with men while si­mul­ta­ne­ously pro­tect­ing them­selves against ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual pro­fil­ing. Fol­low­ing the much pub­li­cize nu­dity raids on Chutes Sainte-Mar­guerite (com­monly re­ferred to as the Gay Falls), the mayor of Saint-adèle, Robert Milot, pub­licly an­nounced his plans to limit ac­cess to the falls by means of a se­cu­rity check­point. To make his in­ten­tions less covert, Mr. Milot should equip the check­point with a sign that reads: “no fag­gots; no fuck­ing.”

To add in­sult to in­jury, at some point dur­ing the past decade, Longueuil po­lice started de­liv­er­ing the tick­ets they is­sue to men who have sex with men di­rectly to their vic­tims’ home ad­dresses in the hopes of wreak­ing havoc in the per­sonal and ro­man­tic lives of those men who do not openly ad­mit to be­ing at­tracted to or to hav­ing ex­tra­mar­i­tal sex with mem­bers of the same sex.

Un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, cruis­ers ar­rested un­der sec­tion 173(1) may be re­quired by pros­e­cu­tors to both reg­is­ter as a sex of­fender and pro­vide a DNA sam­ple. All cruis­ers ar­rested un­der sec­tion 271(1) are fin­ger­printed and are re­quired to reg­is­ter as sex of­fend­ers and pro­vide DNA sam­ples.

Im­pos­ing lim­its on free­dom of move­ment is an­other tac­tic that po­lice and pri­vate se­cu­rity agents use to dis­ci­pline queer sex­ual de­sires out of ex­is­tence. In R c. Ma­jor, a 1998 court case in­volv­ing a cruiser and a plain­clothes cop, Judge THEMENS or­dered the cruiser to not find him­self in or around Marie-vic­torin Park. In the 2010 court case men­tioned above, po­lice or­dered the cruiser not to find him­self in the Parc de l’île Melville be­tween the time of his ar­rest and the time of his first court hear­ing. Again, in the 2017 court case men­tioned above, mall se­cu­rity or­dered the cruiser not to find him­self in the Ea­ton Cen­tre for a pe­riod of one year. By deny­ing cruis­ers ac­cess to their pre­ferred cruis­ing grounds, se­cu­rity, po­lice, and judges ef­fec­tively deny cruis­ers the right to ben­e­fit from the pres­ence and sup­port of their fel­low com­mu­nity mem­bers. Or­ders like these iso­late in­di­vid­ual cruis­ers from po­ten­tial sup­port net­works, thus mak­ing it eas­ier for au­thor­i­ties to sub­or­di­nate them.

Ho­mo­pho­bic politi­cians, se­cu­rity per­son­nel, po­lice, and judges will go to ex­treme lengths to both en­hance their abil­ity to sub­or­di­nate men who have sex with men and to mask the ho­mo­pho­bic mo­ti­va­tions be­hind their raids. The list of tac­tics above, there­fore, is not com­pre­hen­sive. Many are the un­doc­u­mented and in­vis­i­ble means by which po­lice purge pub­lic spa­ces of queer bod­ies and sex­u­al­i­ties.

COMPLACENCE AND COM­PLIC­ITY

Ac­cu­sa­tions made against cruis­ers us­ing ar­ti­cles 173(1) and 271(1) of the Cana­dian Crim­i­nal Code and un­der petty mu­nic­i­pal by­laws in­volve a num­ber of false rep­re­sen­ta­tions, pur­pose­ful mis­con­tru­als, and ho­mo­pho­bic ra­tio­nal­iza­tions. Plain­clothes cops make their way to gay cruis­ing grounds with the in­tent of be­ing touched and of hav­ing us show them our pack­ages. They want to have their bod­ies ca­ressed. To con­strue con­sen­sual sex­ual en­coun­ters like these as “in­de­cent” or “as­sault” is noth­ing short of per­verse. De­spite this per­ver­sity, some of the most “im­por­tant” “com­mu­nity” or­ga­ni­za­tions in the prov­ince of Que­bec—those whose voices the state is most likely to rec­og­nize—refuse to speak out against ho­mo­pho­bic state ini­tia­tives.

Com­mu­nity Or­ga­ni­za­tions

Cruis­ers are not the only ones who have been sub­ject to re­pres­sion within the con­text of anti-‘in­de­cency’ op­er­a­tions. A cou­ple of years ago, two of REZO’S out­reach per­son­nel were forced out of Maison­neuve park by cops while dis­tribut­ing con­doms in a wooded area know to at­tract cruis­ers. De­spite this, REZO has re­fused to share in­for­ma­tion about the raids with the com­mu­nity. More than just re­fus­ing to warn the com­mu­nity, REZO Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor Alexan­dre Blais im­me­di­ately sought to de­politi­cize the in­ci­dent by blam­ing it on a few ‘bad’ cops — this, im­me­di­ately af­ter hav­ing been pre­sented with po­lice doc­u­ments re­veal­ing the ex­is­tence of mul­ti­ple state pro­jects de­signed to purge parks of men who have sex with men.

The re­sponse of the Con­seil des Gais et des Les­bi­ennes du Québec is even more alarm­ing. In 2011, the then head of the Con­seil, Steve Foster, met with the head of PDQ 38, Stéphane Bélanger, to dis­cuss the «prob­lé­ma­tique» of cruis­ing in Parc La­fontaine. M. Bélanger ar­ranged this meet­ing for the pur­poses of ask­ing for the Con­seil’s « col­lab­o­ra­tion en matière d’in­for­ma­tion à trans­met­tre à la com­mu­nauté gai ». If the Con­seil had taken on this task, PDQ 38 would have both ab­solved it­self of the un­savoury (po­lit­i­cally un­wise?) task of or­der­ing fag­gots not to fuck in the park and suc­cess­fully pinkwashed its moral­ity raids. This is not what hap­pened. Rather than le­git­imiz­ing the raids by ac­cept­ing an un­der­handed re­quest to act as the mouth­piece of ho­mo­pho­bic brutes, Mr. Foster seems to have pro­vided Mr. Bélanger with im­plicit sup­port he wanted by fail­ing to speak out loudly enough against this ini­tia­tive. The cur­rent head of the Con­seil Marie-pier Boisvert has sim­ply cho­sen to ig­nore our emails.

Though se­ri­ously dis­ap­point­ing, the Con­seil’s re­sponse — or lack thereof — is not nearly as trou­ble­some as the re­sponse of MIELS- Québec, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides sup­port ser­vices to peo­ple liv­ing with HIV-AIDS in the Que­bec City re­gion. In 2009, this “com­mu­nity” or­ga­ni­za­tion part­nered with the Ser­vice de Po­lice de la Ville de Québec for a two day op­er­a­tion called Opéra­tion Ren­dezVous. Dur­ing this op­er­a­tion, MIELS’ out­reach worker, Philippe De Carufel, would “bait” cruis­ers, pro­vide them with con­doms and lube, and then sug­gest that they take their sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties else­where. Once De Carufel had iden­ti­fied a cruiser, po­lice would ar­rive on scene and “in­form” the cruiser of po­ten­tial fines and crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings. Dur­ing this two day op­er­a­tion, MIELS, us­ing entrapment-like tac­tics, ac­tively sought to make vis­i­ble, and thus, po­lice­able, the sex­ual pop­u­la­tion whose well-be­ing it pur­port­edly cares most about — a sex­ual pop­u­la­tion that was al­ready vul­ner­a­ble to il­le­git­i­mate state in­ter­ven­tion prior to this re­volt­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion with po­lice is in­ter­est­ing, be­cause it will al­low us to in­form the men that there will be re­pres­sion.” De Carufel’s state­ment to the press is chill­ingly sim­i­lar to the in­struc­tions given to of­fi­cers con­duct­ing ar­rests of men who have sex with men on the is­land of Mon­treal a few years later. Ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers per­form­ing “anti-in­de­cency” op­er­a­tions in An­grignon Park back in 2011 were told to “in­form of­fend­ers of the re­pres­sion to come.” Rather than en­gag­ing in the kinds of sol­i­dar­ity work that would have con­trib­uted to the well-be­ing of men who have sex with men, dur­ing this two- day op­er­a­tion, MIELS chose to ex­ploit the re­la­tion­ship of trust it had pre­vi­ously built with men who have sex with men in or­der to en­gage in pre­cisely the kinds of threat­en­ing talk that po­lice would soon iden­tify as be­ing key to purg­ing parks of men who have sex with men — talk that can only be de­scribed as mor­al­iz­ing and dis­ci­plinary.

For its part, In­terligne (formerly Gai-écoute), has sim­ply cho­sen not to re­spond to any of our emails. De­politi­cized, these com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions are of lit­tle help to those of us who in­habit the mar­gins of the queer com­mu­nity, where non- com­pli­ance with het­ero­sex­ist sex­ual norms con­tin­ues to act as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for po­lice vi­o­lence.

CLOS­ING RE­MARKS

Tes­ti­monies of men ar­rested or tick­eted dur­ing stings re­veal that cops ac­tively court their vic­tims by smil­ing at them, court­ing them while sport­ing full- on erec­tions, star­ing at them for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time rang­ing from 20 to 50 min­utes, and by ap­proach­ing their vic­tims and of­fer­ing to en­gage in touch­ing of a sex­ual na­ture by means of sug­ges­tive body lan­guage. The truth is that plain­clothes cops play an ac­tive role in se­duc­ing their vic­tims. The truth is that those of us who fail to con­form to het­ero­sex­ist sex­ual norms are con­tin­u­ally made tar­gets of il­le­git­i­mate state in­ter­ven­tion. The truth is that the moral­ity raids never ended.

Most of the names and badge num­bers of the cops or se­cu­rity agents per­form­ing the above­men­tioned op­er­a­tions have been omit­ted to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the men con­cerned. It is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize the vi­o­lence im­plicit in this si­lenc­ing. In or­der to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the men whose tes­ti­monies we have shared, cer­tain source doc­u­ments have not been made pub­lic.

To see notes and ref­er­ences, visit https://www.mcgill­daily.com. com/2018/ 11/this-is-no-longer-a-safe­place/

For a more de­tailed dis­cus­sion of po­lice doc­u­ments off of which this piece is based, con­sider at­tend­ing Cruise Con­trol’s up­com­ing par­tic­i­pa­tory talk (in French) Vi­o­lence, sex­u­al­ité, et sur­veil­lance, which will be held on Novem­ber 6 at 12: 30 within the con­text of UQAM’S Se­maine Con­tre la Sur­veil­lance.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the raids or to stay in touch, fol­low @ cruisec­on­trolmtl on Face­book.

Tune into CKUT on Novem­ber 7th at 6pm to hear Au­dio Smut’s cov­er­age of the Mont-royal cruis­ing scene in the 70s and 80s.

“The cop tried ev­ery­thing to make me be­lieve that he was gay.”

—Anony­mous

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