On February 5, 1981, police raided Toronto’s gay baths and arrested 286 men on bawdy house charges. The raids, carried out with calculated brutality and overt homophobia, resulted in extensive property damage. An immediate and sustained grassroots response led by the Right to Privacy Committee (RTPC) included massive demonstrations, fundraising for cover court costs, legal coordination, media outreach and alliances with racialized groups similarly harassed by police.
In the end, more than 80% of those charged were acquitted and our community emerged as a visible and vibrant part of the city’s mosaic, transforming the social landscape forever.
Pride Toronto, Executive Director Mathieu Chantelois joined the show to discuss the importance of remembering the history of the bathhouse raid -Operation Soap.