Edmonton Queer History Project

Celebrating the People, Places, and Events that built the Queer Community in Edmonton


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Lobbying the Alberta Government in the 1980s by Sheryl Ackerman

Changing the Individual Rights Protection Act was a Sheryl Ackerman has provided us with a history of letters lobbying to change the Individual Rights Protection Act and efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Click here to download in PDF: Letters re lobbying submission Revised

On June 5, 1989, in the Alberta Legislature, MLA Marie Laing introduced Bill 225, an Act to Amend the Individual’s Rights Protection Act. This Act would make discrimination based on sexual orientation or mental disability unlawful.

Many of us, including Pauline Bélanger (my spouse) and I, Sheryl Ackerman, wrote to MLAs in support of this bill. Here are two letters we received in response that summer, plus a copy of the proposed bill. The bill did not succeed, despite the fact that the Human Rights Commission in Alberta had recommended inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected category in 1977, 1981 and 1985. Lobbying continued, but the law did not change until 20 years later, in June 2009.

Note: The letter from Pam Barrett is personalized because she was our next-door neighbour at Sundance Co-op!

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Pisces Bathhouse Raid: Edmonton’s Stonewall (May 20, 1981)

Do You have a story or photos about the Pisces Raid? Email it to: edmontonqueerhistoryproject@gmail.com and we will add it to the project website!

May 20, 1981: Pisces Health Spa in Edmonton, Alberta is raided by the City of Edmonton Police after a lengthly undercover investigation by the then called Morality Control Unit. Many of the 56 men police arrested eventually pleaded guilty, despite the fact that there was no evidence to suggest prostitutes were working in the spa, nor that minors were enticed to enter. Undercover police officers had acted as patrons of the Pisces Health Spa. A letter written by then Morality Control Unit Staff Sgt. J.W. Torgerson stated “For policemen…to associate with members of the ‘gay’ community on equal basis is worthy of note. Not only did they associate with these individuals, but also were subjected to sexual advances as well as observing personally revolting acts such as fellation and anal intercourse between males, (and)lastly, being recognized and treated as a gay person by members of the spa”.

Sources:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=mdo-95q2EYgC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=pisces+raid+edmonton&source=bl&ots=Vxr_z1sUkD&sig=OyE-2M5FxGa4mB8n3l3k6Wu6Om0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=daXFU_7cK-SbjALevoHgBg&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=pisces%20raid%20edmonton&f=false

Do You have a story or photos about the Pisces Raid? Email it to: edmontonqueerhistoryproject@gmail.com and we will add it to the documentation!