The head of 52 Division says a dozen men were arrested at the Bijou in order to protect unsuspecting tourists.
“The obvious concern would be – let us appreciate that it is a gay
area – if, in fact, you were not gay, and you would have happened to walk into there as a tourist, it would have been quite insulting,” says Supt Aidan Maher.
“So the officers took the necessary steps.”
His undercover cops, Maher says, weren’t looking for gay sex during two police sweeps of “Canada’s largest porn bar.”
Supt Aidan Maher says his officers were on regular liquor inspections when they charged 12 men with committing indecent acts.
“Well, I think the officers went out there just on a regular type
of inspection on a licensed premise,” says Maher. “And they discovered indecent acts, that basically were occurring right on the premises.”
In an interview following the two pre-Pride shakedowns, Maher is
vague as to whether the Bijou will be able to operate as it has.
“The reason they went back was because the officer in charge had
left a card for the owner to contact him with respect to the premises. And the owner never in fact did return the call.”
Xtra’s attempts to contact owner Craig Anderson (also owner of the Cellar) were unsuccessful as of our deadline.
Maher is quick to point out that the Bijou is a licensed theatre – not a bathhouse or a private club.
“If it’s occurring in the eyes of the public, it doesn’t matter if
it’s just the Bijou, or any licensed establishment…. I think the conduct itself is not even condoned in the community.
“I don’t believe that the actions are condoned by any of the clubs
in that area. The concern is a non-gay person walking into that place – like a tourist. I mean, it’s very, very insulting.”
“Concerns have been raised with respect to this conduct in the eyes
of the public, and, you know, he [the owner] appreciates this and will take the necessary steps.
“I think some of the other concerns are, if you walk into a gay
bar, that there is a doorman on to advise you that it is a gay bar –
those are the little things he has to do.”
Does that mean that sex acts must stop?
“Well, like I say, it’s not a private club. I think, what you have
to do, is in a licensed premises, the rules are the same for a homosexual club or it is for a gay club… that in fact, you can’t have this in the eyes of the general public.”
(A number of heterosexual swing clubs operate at bars, hotels,
homes, and even on Captain John’s Boat.)
So, is Maher worried that a dozen criminal sex charges two weeks
before Pride might cause an uprising?
“I don’t believe so. I think anybody would be insulted if in fact
it were occurring in the public view.”
“As a matter of fact, it won’t happen again. I think it’s like any licensed premises whether it’s in the gay area or otherwise, you know, they cannot operate as private clubs.”