The editors of ActiveHistory.ca are currently enjoying our annual end of summer hiatus, but we’ll be back with new content in September. During the hiatus, we’re featuring some of our most popular and favourite posts from the past year. Thanks as always to our writers and readers.
The following post by Tom Hooper was originally featured on January 23, 2018.For more than 25 years, Ron Rosenes* has been an activist on issues related to HIV/AIDS. In 2007, he was given the Canadian AIDS Society Leadership Award. In 2012, Carleton University awarded him an honorary doctorate. He is a member of the Order of Canada.
Despite this impressive resume of advocacy, the Toronto Police Service has a file on him. In the late evening of February 5th, 1981, he was sitting alone in his room at the Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, one of the city’s gay bathhouses. 200 police raided the Romans and three other similar establishments, arresting 306 men, Rosenes included. He fought the charges in court, but was guilty of being found in a common bawdy house.
This is a historical injustice. In 2016, Toronto’s Chief of Police issued a statement of regret for the raids. In November 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a formal apology to the LGBTQ2+ community in the House of Commons. He stated that discrimination “was quickly codified in criminal offenses like ‘buggery,’ ‘gross indecency’, and bawdy house provisions. Bathhouses were raided, people were entrapped by police.” On the same day as Trudeau’s apology, the government introduced Bill C-66, which would create a legislative process to expunge the records of certain Criminal Code convictions that have been defined as “historically unjust.”