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Timeline of LGBT history in Canada

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This is a timeline of notable events in the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Canada.

19th centuryEdit

  • 1810: Alexander Wood, a merchant and magistrate in Toronto, is embroiled in a sex scandal when he investigates a rape case by personally inspecting the penises of the suspected assailants for a scratch left by the woman who filed the rape charge. Although Wood's actual sexual orientation is unknown, he is now honoured as a forefather of the gay community in Toronto, where the Church and Wellesley gay village is partly located on land that was once part of Wood's private estate.


  • 1965: Winter Kept Us Warm, a gay-themed independent film by David Secter, becomes the first English Canadian film to be given a screening at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • 1967: Writer Scott Symons publishes Place d'Armes, one of the first notable gay novels in Canadian literary history.
  • December 21, 1967: Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau introduces an omnibus bill reforming the Criminal Code of Canada, which liberalizes Canadian law around social issues such as homosexuality, abortion and divorce.


  • 1972: Maclean-Hunter's cable community channel in Toronto airs Coming Out, Canada's first television series about LGBT issues.
  • January 5, 1974: The Brunswick Four are arrested at the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto.
  • 1977: A bathhouse raid took place in Montreal. Trials connected to that raid were still taking place in the early 1980s.[citation needed]
  • November 1977: The Body Politic publishes Gerald Hannon's article "Men Loving Boys Loving Men", resulting in a five-year legal battle over whether the magazine was guilty of publishing "immoral, indecent or scurrilous material".
  • 1978: Buddies in Bad Times, Canada's oldest surviving theatre company dedicated to LGBT theatre, is launched by Matt Walsh, Jerry Ciccoritti, and Sky Gilbert.
  • May 10, 1979: In the British Columbia provincial election, Robert Douglas Cook becomes Canada's first openly gay political candidate. He garners 126 votes in West Vancouver-Howe Sound as a candidate of the Gay Alliance Toward Equality.


  • February 5, 1981: Four bathhouses in Toronto are raided. The 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids are now considered one of the crucial turning points in Canadian LGBT history, as an unprecedented community mobilization took place to protest police conduct. One of the protest marches during this mobilization is now generally recognized as the first Toronto Pride event.
  • April 20, 1983: The Back Door Gym, one of the establishments raided in 1981, is raided again. This raid is protested on April 23. No further bathhouse raids take place in the 1980s. The warrant used in this raid was declared invalid by the courts on October 3, 1984.
  • March 1984: Pink Triangle Press, the publisher of The Body Politic, launches the local LGBT newspaper Xtra! in Toronto.
  • 1987: Pink Triangle Press ceases publication of The Body Politic.
  • 1987: CODCO, a sketch comedy series whose cast includes the openly gay Greg Malone and Tommy Sexton, debuts on CBC Television. Along with the later The Kids in the Hall, the show plays a prominent role in the representation of LGBT characters and issues on Canadian television; in addition to the gay characters "Jerome and Duncan", Sexton and Malone were especially renowned for drag-based impersonations of celebrity women such as Queen Elizabeth, Barbara Frum, Barbara Walters, Tammy Faye Bakker and Margaret Thatcher.
  • 1988: The Kids in the Hall, a sketch comedy series whose cast includes the openly gay Scott Thompson, debuts on CBC Television. Sketches such as Thompson's character Buddy Cole and the ensemble sketch "The Steps" were among the most visible representations of gay culture on Canadian television during the show's run.


  • July 12, 1993: Unknown persons toss three Molotov cocktails at the front door of the St. Marc Spa in Toronto. Bomb threats are also called in against Woody's, Bar 501 and the offices of Xtra! the following night.[1]
  • 1995 (unknown date): The Nu West Steam Bath in New Westminster, British Columbia is raided by its new landlords, who enter the premises and cause damage with the express intention of evicting the facility from their property.[2]


  • 2000: Tim Stevenson is appointed to the Legislative Council of British Columbia, becoming Canada's first openly gay cabinet minister.
  • September 14, 2000: Five police officers raid Pussy Palace, a women's bathhouse event in Toronto. No charges were laid against customers, although police recorded the names of ten women, and two organizers, Rachael Aitcheson and J.P. Hornick, were charged under the bawdyhouse law. Subsequent protest action characterizes the event as essentially little more than a panty raid — a march on the offices of the Toronto Police Services' 52 Division on October 28 features protestors waving underwear in the air.[3]
  • September 7, 2001: PrideVision, the world's first LGBT-specific television channel, is launched by Headline Media Group.
  • May 10, 2002: In Marc Hall v. Durham Catholic School Board, a judge orders the Durham Catholic District School Board to allow Marc Hall, an openly gay student, to bring a same-sex date to the high school prom.
  • December 12, 2002: Goliath's, a bathhouse in Calgary, Alberta, is raided by Calgary Police. Charges move very slowly through the courts; the Crown ultimately drops all charges against customers of the bathhouse in December of 2004, but proceeds with charges against the bathhouse owners.[4]
  • June 12, 2003: The Ontario Court of Appeal rules, in Halpern v. Canada, that the common law definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman violates section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision immediately legalizes same-sex marriage in Ontario, and sets a legal precedent — over the next two years, similar court decisions legalize same-sex marriage in seven provinces and one territory before the federal Civil Marriage Act is passed in 2005.
  • November 15, 2003: With same-sex marriage recognized by the courts, British Columbia cabinet minister Ted Nebbeling becomes Canada's first serving cabinet minister to legally marry his same-sex partner.
  • August 13, 2004: Police raid the Warehouse baths in Hamilton, Ontario.[5]
  • June 26, 2005: On the 25th anniversary of Toronto's Pride Week, Bill Blair becomes the first chief of police in the city's history to participate in the parade.
  • July 19, 2005: The federal Civil Marriage Act, legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada, is given royal assent.
  • July 29, 2006: The Declaration of Montreal, an international statement of principle pertaining to the human rights of LGBT people around the world, is adopted at a conference connected to the 2006 World Outgames in Montreal.
  • April 16, 2007: 103.9 Proud FM, Canada's first LGBT radio station and the first in the world operated by a commercial broadcaster rather than a community non-profit group, is launched in Toronto.


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