Toronto police chief to apologize for 1981 bathhouse raids at Pride event

A man with blood streaming down his face scuffles with police outside the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Feb. 6, 1981 after about 1,000 gay rights demonstrators marched there in protest of the arrests on Feb. 5, 1981 of hundreds of men in four city bathhouses. Gary Hershorn / THE CANADIAN PRESS/UPC

Toronto’s police chief is set to apologize this afternoon for raids that explicitly targeted the city’s gay community more than 30 years ago.

Mark Saunders will directly tackle a series of raids of Toronto bathhouses that took place in 1981.

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The raids saw officers barging into four bathhouses, where they rounded up the people inside.

Nearly 300 people were arrested and charged with owning or being found in a common bawdy house.

More than 90 per cent of the charges were dropped in years to come, and the raids galvanized Toronto’s LGBTQ community to fight for their rights and find a political voice.

Saunders is making the apology during Toronto’s Pride month.

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