The Barn gets busted

Now police don't like nudist dances

The owner of the Barn has been charged with allowing nudity in his establishment.

“They [police] said they got a complaint from somebody, and then the [Alcohol And Gaming Commission] called them up and told them to come and investigate,” says owner Janko Naglic. “Which I don’t believe.”

Two officers from 52 Division paid a visit to the Barn during a Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity dance on Mar 25. The group has held hoe-downs at the Barn on the last Saturday of the month for more than three years without incident.

Naglic says the officers first came in February and told his manager that they could not host a TNT event. He debated what to do, but then got a letter from TNT Men stating that nothing is illegal about the gatherings.

When the officers – identified as badge numbers 7313 and 6357 – showed up at the party, they spoke with both Naglic and Peter Simm, TNT’s lawyer and a member of the group’s board of directors.

They told Naglic that he would be issued a citation on Mar 30, unless they were told not to by their supervisor, the Alcohol And Gaming Commission, or a Crown attorney.

Naglic has now been charged.

The superintendent of 52 Division, Aidan Maher, says everything is in order.

“I have the synopsis here in front of me that says, ‘licence holder permits disorderly conduct.'”

He also says the liquor board had nothing to do with it, and that the charge was laid the day of the dance. “It was from the police as a result from complaints from the community.”

TNT lawyer Simm says the whole thing rankles. The Liquor

Licence Act regulation deals with three things: riotous, quarrelsome and disorderly conduct.

Simm has submitted a 10,000-word legal brief arguing that these don’t apply to mere nudity.

“Disorderly conduct must mean something that is similar to riotous conduct, that is similar to violent conduct, that is similar to quarrelsome conduct,” says Simm. “None of those have any connotations of immorality or sexuality or whatever.”

The bust is especially worrisome because of a series of visits to The Bijou porn theatre, which began Jun 13, 1999. What some have characterized as constant harassment led to 18 patrons charged with indecency – and the owner shut it down. The charges were later dropped, with the city’s top Crown attorney saying the deal was a one-time thing, and that homosexuals will be arrested if they have sex “in public.”

The Bijou got a bathhouses licence, then was visited at least twice, and shut down again early in the new year. It’s now re-opened with cubicles, and has shut down its infamous slurp ramp.


Owner Craig Anderson also gave in and turned in his liquor licence, used as an excuse by the police for their constant visits.

Anderson says he has heard nothing of the threatened multiple charges against him and his establishment.

Maher says they’ve all been dropped. “They have surrendered their licence,” he explains. Maher did not return a follow-up call.

City Councillor Kyle Rae is annoyed by the Barn bust. “It irritates me that after four years of no problem, they’ve decided to pursue this.

“Part of the problem is, a lot of the city… is organized around complaints. They have to investigate.”

Rae also says that the agreed-upon process was followed – a warning, followed by a charge against the establishment. If things continue, individuals will be charged.

“It’s a test case to clarifying the law,” he says. “Far too many laws on the books have been constructed over time to control sexuality. That has to stop. It’s about getting the federal government to change the Criminal Code. Call your MP.”

In a worst case scenario, the Barn could face a brief suspension of its liquor licence.

“I want to clear it up before I have another event like this,” says Naglic. “I just don’t want have any hassle. It’s not that I’m worried that much about the police. It’s more about the liquor board.”

Chief Julian Fantino has called a neighbourhood policing meeting for all residents and organisations in 52 Division at 7pm on Tue, Apr 18, at City Hall (on Queen at Bay).

The June 13 Committee has called a demonstration for 2:30pm on Sunday, April 16. Meet at the Barn (on Church St, one block south of Carlton); marchers will proceed to police headquarters (at 40 College St) and demand that the charge be dropped and that police stop harassing gay bars and bathhouses.

with files by Eleanor Brown.

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Power, Crime, Toronto

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