Calgary: Gay men allege police are targeting them for using park for hookups

Police deny they are singling out any particular group of people

Gay men using a Calgary park known as a cruising area allege they are being targeted by police in a bid to prevent them from using it for hookups.

The Calgary Sun reports that two men, who had gone into an overgrown part of North Glenmore Park, said police confronted them and told them that they were in violation of a bylaw to protect vegetation and that residents had complained about “homosexual activities” in the area.

One man, who would identify himself only as Calgary Queer, said he was approached by two officers in plain clothes who asked why he was there and then walked him back to the parking lot, where another two officers in uniform asked him for ID, according to the report.

He says he felt “threatened” and “intimidated.”

Another man, who identified himself as James, told the Sun he had had a similar experience with police.

“We’re not harming others. We may be engaged in ‘extra-curricular’ activity, but we hide it away from the public eyes,” James, who’s not out as a gay man, told the Sun.

Police deny they are singling out any particular group of people but say they are “targeting behaviour that may be occurring,” as well as “educating the people in the area.”

Calgary Queer says that if the police are engaged in an education exercise, he doesn’t understand why four officers had to approach him. He also wondered if the police didn’t have more urgent issues to tackle.

Sergeant Jim Stinson told the Sun that police deploy their resources appropriately.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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