History of The Gay Liberation in Canada, 1970s
Climate and Timeline

Rainbow Line
1971 1972  1973 1974  1975 1976  1977 1978  1979
The Movement During the 1970s:
Storming the Status Quo:
"There was a sense among activists and intellectuals that individuals working in mass movements could make a difference...Amid this ferment, lesbian and gay liberation burst onto the scene...

'Out of the Closet and Into the Streets,'
    'Gay is Just as Good as Straight,' and
        'Better Blatant than Latent'
         were among the rallying cries" (Warner 61).

Social and Political Atmosphere:

Neither the Government, the media, nor the general public was outright supportive of the initiatives of the gay and lesbian movement during this decade. Homophobia was systemic and rampant and demands were unacknowledged, thus "the only effective tactics...were visibility, confrontation, and constant education" (Warner, 72). So the gay and lesbian movement came out with a bang! However, this movement was not cohesive and lesbians experienced difficulty finding a group with which to voice their issues, as feminist and gay organizations were not a comfortable fit. Thus, a form of lesbian autonomy arose during this decade (Warner 78-81). The 1970s also brought about the formation of many gay and lesbian organizations across Canada, as well as the notion of celebration and "gay pride". Police crackdowns on bars and bathhouses frequented by gays and lesbians occurred with furious intensity during this period. The police and the press struck up a campaign of hatemongering. Police "alleged links between the bathhouses and organized crime activity, and claimed that drug deals and prostitution were occurring in those businesses" (Warner 104), and released the names of anyone arrested to the public. Towards the end of the decade, the movement (particularly its embracing of gay and lesbian pornography (See Index no.42 1978) and its calls for amendments to legislation) came under fire from religious fundamentalists and social conservatives (Warner 124-133). This movement was headed up by Anita Bryant, who "crusaded against legislated human rights for lesbians and gays, using fears of children being recruited to homosexuality and the Christian family being undermined" (Warner 136). For more discussion of Anita Bryant from TBP, see Index no.35 1977, Index no.40, no. 43, no. 47 1978.

*Note: information from timeline has been taken from Jackson & Persky, pgs. 226-244.

London - U.W.O Homophile Association formed July, Vancouver: Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) formed, with civil rights as its main agenda

August 21, Parliament Hill, Ottawa - The "We Demand" manifesto presented to Parliament. It outlined basic demands for alterations to law and policy with respect to the gay and lesbian population. (Warner 76) (See Index 1971)

August 28, Parliament Hill, Ottawa - First Canadian public gay demonstration in support of the manifesto


August 19-28, Toronto - Toronto Gay Action sponsored first gay pride festivities

Back to the Top

Toronto, YWCA - First lesbian conference in Canada held

August 17-26 - Gay pride week celebrated nationally


January 28, Quebec - Quebec groups lobby for inclusion of sexual orientation in human rights charter. "First appearance of Canadian gay movement before legislative body" (Jackson & Persky, 229).

March, Milton - Halton Renaissance Committee formed by Ken Campbell, a fundamentalist minister, to oppose gay rights. Campbell was later to be responsible for hosting the arrival in Canada of Anita Bryant.

Back to the Top

February 4, Montreal - Sauna Aquarius raid, 36 arrested

February 6, Toronto - John Damien fired by Ontario Racing Commission due to his sexual orientation. The incident launches a large court case.

March 4-20, Ottawa - Police arrest 18 men for sex offences and publish their names in the paper

March 18, Ottawa - Warren Zufelt commits suicide after his name is published in the paper

March 20, Ottawa - Gays of Ottawa protests at the Ottawa police station and Ottawa Citizen as a result of the arrests and Zufelt's suicide

September, Saskatoon - Doug Wilson barred from teaching at the University of Saskatchewan because of his involvement in the gay movement

September 13, Toronto - March in favour of John Damien hosted by Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario

October 17-18, 31, Montreal - Police raid 7 gay and lesbian bars

November 6 - "Special Joint Committee on Immigration Policy recommends that homosexuals no longer be prohibited from entering Canada" (Jackson & Persky, 230).

Back to the Top

Kingston - "The Not-So-Invisible Woman: Lesbian Perspectives in the Gay Movement" conference held

Montreal - hosts the Olympic Games, resulting in a "clean-up" of the city, which spurred a series of raids on the gay community to "cleanse" the downtown core in advance of the tourists (Warner 107). (See Index no. 25 1976)

January 23, Montreal - Police raid Club Baths, arrest 13

Spring, Halifax - CBC radio decides not to air ad from Gay Alliance for Equality

May 14, Montreal - Police raid Neptune Sauna

May 22, Montreal - Police raid Club Baths

June 11-13, Kingston - NDP party becomes the first political party to support the gay movement

June 19, Montreal - Protest held against the Olympic clean-up

Back to the Top

January 7, Ottawa - CBC makes it public policy not to advertise anything controversial

February 17, Halifax - Protest against the CBC policy, first protest in Atlantic Canada

April 2, Newfoundland - 9 women discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces for being lesbian

June 25, Toronto - Coalition to Stop Anita Bryant formed

August 1, Toronto - "Emanuel Jacques, 12 year-old shoeshine boy, found sexually assaulted and murdered on the roof of Yonge Street body-rub parlour. Four men later charged with murder. Begins huge media and public outcry which becomes focused on entire gay community" (Jackson & Persky, 232).

October 21-22 - Damien Days of Protest held nationally

October 22, Montreal - Police raid Truxx, a gay bar, carrying machine guns, 146 men charged (Warner 108)

October 23, Montreal - 2000 protest the raid

December 15, Quebec - sexual orientation included in Quebec Charter of Human Rights

Back to the Top

January 14, Toronto - Protest of Anita Bryant's visit to Toronto

January 15, People's Church, Toronto - Anita Bryant Speaks

March, Toronto - Toronto Lambda Business Council formed, first gay business association in Canada

April 29, Edmonton - Protest against the arrival of Anita Bryant

April 30, Winnipeg - Protest against the arrival of Anita Bryant

Summer, Kitchener-Waterloo - First gay radio show to be heard regularly in Canada, "Gay News and Views" airs

July 1, Moose Jaw - Protest against the arrival of Anita Bryant

August 23-27, Toronto - Gaydays

September 10, London - Protest against the arrival of Anita Bryant

November 27, Toronto - Parents of Gays founded

December 9, Toronto - Police raid The Barracks (See Index no. 59 1979)

Back to the Top

April, Toronto - Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation includes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy

May 5, Saskatoon - Saskatchewan division of CUPE includes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy

May 13, London - Ontario division of CUPE does the same

May 22, Ottawa - Supreme Court of Canada supports the Vancouver Sun in its exclusion of advertising for Gay Tide

May 31, Toronto - Declaration of Concern and Intent issued by the Metro Toronto Police Commission, only tangentially addresses the concerns over homophobia and racism

August 20-22, Toronto - Gay Sit-in for Justice held at the office of Attorney General Roy McMurty to force a meeting to discuss police harassment

October 11, Toronto - Police raid The Hot Tub Club

December, Toronto - PLURA, a religious agency, gives $4000 to enable the establishment of rural Ontario gay organizations

December, Montreal - Canada Customs ban on gay pornography upheld by Quebec Superior Court

Back to the Top