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The Pussy Palace Raid occurred on September 14, 2000, when Toronto police raided a lesbian bathhouse known as the "Pussy Palace" during the "2000 Pussies" event. Two undercover female police officers attended and investigated the event prior to the raid. Five plainclothes male police officers then entered and searched the club, including private rooms. There were around 350 women in attendance at the time, many of whom were nude or semi-clad.[1]

No charges were laid that night but weeks later two volunteers were charged with Liquor License Act violations. The charges were dismissed by the Ontario Court Justice in 2002, stating the search was carried out in an unreasonable manner. The women attendees had the right to expect female officers would search the premises under Canada's Charter of Rights which protects people from searches by those of the opposite sex.[2]

The Women's Bathhouse Committee filed a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2001 which was settled with Toronto Police Services Board in 2004. As part of the settlement the Toronto Police Service were required to enhance their efforts to recruit gay officers and adopt a "gender-sensitive" policy.[3]









The charges

The Applicants are each charged with six counts under the Liquor Licence Act R.S.O. 1990, Chapter L19:


The settlement between the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee and the Toronto Police Services Board rules the Toronto Police Service must:

  1. Enhance their efforts to recruit gay officers, and to report annually on their success in doing so.
  2. Adopt a "gender-sensitive" policy which officers must abide by if they attend locations occupied solely by women who may be partly or fully undressed.
  3. Carry out confidential surveys of members who leave the force to find out whether racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination prompted their decision to resign.
  4. Pay $350,000 to the complainants.[3] The money will go toward covering legal fees and specific charities:
    • $25,000 to Maggie's, an organization that runs support programs for Toronto sex workers.
    • $165,000 to The Bill 7 Award fund.[4]

Key people

Janet Rowe was on AIDS Committee of Toronto wanted to start a bathhouse night for women to talk about safe sex in a welcoming, safe environment. Together with Loralee Gillis they founded the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee. Other members of the women's bathhouse committee include Chanelle Gallant, Diane Hamilton, Carlyle Jansen, Karen Chan, and Chi Chi LaFemme.[23] Two others JP Hornick in charge of the Security the night of the raid and a special events organizer were the two volunteers charged following the September event.[10]

Frank Addario acted as the lawyer for the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee resulting in Ontario Court Judge Peter Hryn dismissing the case and the Crown Prosecutor withdrawing the charges.[13] Funds to support the case were raised through donations and fundraisers by the Women's Bath House Defense Fund.[12]

In the year 2000, Julian Fantino was Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair was the head of corporate communications and Aidan Maher was Superintendent commander of 52 Division. It was 52 division that carried out the raid, led by detective Dave Wilson.[24] The two undercover female officers who first entered the event are detective constable Chris LaFrance and special investigations services (SIS) constable Janet Hall. LaFrance who was a lesbian herself felt branded a traitor in the community later left the Toronto Police and the city.[25] The remaining police officers are SIS detective constable Peter Christie, SIS detective Myron Demkiw, constable Rich Petrie, and detective constable Adrian Greenaway.[26]

Michael Freeman was the lawyer for the six investigating police officers who filed and won a defamation lawsuit against City of Toronto Councillor Kyle Rae for comments he made to the press about them after the Pussy Palace event raid.


  1. ^ "The Pussy Palace Raid: A Brief Herstory". Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  2. ^ a b c d Clark, Joe (August 9, 2016). "The Pussy Palace court case". Black Lives Matter vs. Pride Toront o. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Makin, Kirk; Gray, Jeff (December 18, 2004). ". . . but calls sensitivity training a burden". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Bolger, Meghan (May 25, 2005). "You've come a long way, Pussy". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Brown, Elanor (October 18, 2000). "The new spin". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Chambers, Stephanie (2017). Any other way : how Toronto got queer. Coach House Books. ISBN 978-1-55245-348-3. OCLC 983482075.
  7. ^ a b Hornick, JP (June 22, 2005). "Pussy Palace: Fighting the cops & winning". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Brown, Eleanor (September 20, 2000). "Male cops at Pussy Palace". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c GALLANT, CHANELLE; GILLIS, LORALEE (December 2001). "Pussies Bite Back: The Story of the Women's Bathhouse Raid". Journal of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Studies Association. 3: 152–167.
  10. ^ a b "Charges Laid Against Women's Bath House Organizing Committee". Toronto Women's Bath House Committee. October 6, 2000. Archived from the original on 2001-03-06.
  11. ^ "Panty Picket Protest". October 24, 2000. Archived from the original on March 6, 2001. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Glese, Rachel (November 29, 2000). "Pussy pals". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Gallant, Paul (February 6, 2002). "Pussy Palace triumph". Xtra Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  14. ^ "Don't cross the cops". Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  15. ^ Smith, Graeme (June 19, 2002). "Councillor found guilty of defamation". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  16. ^ "History". Pride Toronto. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  17. ^ Makin, Kirk (June 17, 2004). "Hearing called into bathhouse raid". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  18. ^ Makin, Kirk (December 17, 2004). "Toronto police to face gay-sensitivity training". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  19. ^ "Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Decisions & Settlements". Ontario Human Rights Commission. 2005. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  20. ^ Makin, Kirk (April 1, 2005). "Police reach settlement over bathhouse raid". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  21. ^ "Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders apologizes for 1981 gay bathhouse raids". CBC. June 23, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Shahzad, Ramna (June 23, 2016). "Women strip-searched, charged in bathhouse raids reject public apology". CBC. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  23. ^ "The Women's Bath House Committee Is..." Pussy Palace Toronto. Archived from the original on April 30, 2001. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  24. ^ Sharpe, Emily (June 27, 2002). "Don't cross the cops". Ottawa Men's Centre. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  25. ^ Kari, Shannon (June 19, 2002). "Officers Awarded $170,000 for councillor's defamation". National Post.
  26. ^ Anderson, Scott (2000-12-21). "Liquor quicker". NOW Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-04.