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Backlash against gays

It was a time of protests, legal fights and backlash. With a growing sense of solidarity, gays and lesbians became more visible in Canadian society in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. Homosexuality gradually became more accepted as more Canadians came out of the closet to demand equality under the law.

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Toronto mayor John Sewell has spoken at a rally for The Body Politic, a gay newspaper which is in court on an obscenity charge. That doesn't sit well with Rev. Ken Campbell, who's organized a rally of his own as a protest. While the event is in support of "family life," the CBC's own reporter seems to take issue with the way Campbell expresses his mandate.
• The Rev. Ken Campbell founded the Halton Renaissance Committee in 1974 when he learned that members of the Hamilton-McMaster Gay Liberation Movement had addressed his daughter's Grade 12 health class. Campbell also refused to pay a portion of his school tax bill as a protest. The Halton Renaissance Committee became Renaissance Canada a short time later.

• In 1978, Renaissance International sponsored singer Anita Bryant's tour across Canada. A year earlier, she'd become a hero to those who opposed gay rights. The city of Miami had passed a law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but Bryant campaigned to repeal it and won. Opponents fought back: they boycotted Florida orange juice and Bryant lost her job as a pitchwoman for the Florida Citrus Commission in 1980.

• The late 1970s was not an easy time for gay men in Toronto. The recent rape and murder of a shoeshine boy, and a local newspaper's hyping of the revelation that one of his four assailants was gay, had turned public opinion against all gays. Anita Bryant was in the news with her "Save Our Children" campaign, which she said wasn't against homosexuals but against the recruitment of children by homosexuals.

• It was in this atmosphere that The Body Politic figured it had nothing to lose by publishing Gerald Hannon's "Men Loving Boys Loving Men," an article about sexual relationships between men and boys. Angry newspaper columns soon appeared, followed by a police raid, obscenity charges, a court case, Sewell's support of the paper's right to freedom of expression, and Campbell's rally. On Feb. 14, the ruling came down: acquitted.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 7, 1979
Guest(s): Bert Billsborough, Ken Campbell, Cheryl Freeman
Host: George McLean
Reporter: John McQuaker
Duration: 2:38

Last updated: September 25, 2014

Page consulted on September 25, 2014

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