The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

The Demands

Although the demands of the march have been mostly met and are taken for granted today, they were seen as radical and unimaginable at the time. A few members of TGA drafted the “We Demand” document, the research and composition of it having been done by David Newcome and Herb Spiers. The brief was a 13-page document that called for changes to the law and public policy regarding gay and lesbian rights. The following are the original demands: 

  1.  The removal of the terms “gross indecency” and “indecent acts” from the Criminal Code and their replacement with specific offences applied equally to homosexual and heterosexual acts.
  2. Removal of “gross indecency” and “buggery” as grounds for indictment as a “dangerous sexual offender.”
  3. Mandating a uniform age of consent for “homosexual” and heterosexual acts.
  4. Amendments to the Immigration Act, 1952, which barred “homosexuals” from entering Canada or applying as immigrants or permanent residents. People with a “constitutional psychopathic personality” were also denied entry, a category that included “homosexuals.”
  5.  The right to equal employment and promotion at all government levels.
  6. Amendments to the Divorce Act, 1968, which placed sodomy and homosexual acts in the same category as physical or mental cruelty, bestiality, and rape as grounds for divorce.
  7.  Deciding child custody based on the merits of individual parents, irrespective of the sexuality of the parent. In practice, courts often denied gays and lesbians custody of their children.
  8. To know whether it was the RCMP’s practice to spy on and identify gays and lesbians in the federal government in order to purge them from employment and if so, to end this practice and destroy all records. 
  9. The right of gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve in the armed forces. 
  10.  Amendments to human rights laws so that they extended the same privileges and freedoms enjoyed by the rest of society to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

Many of these demands were responses to the Cold War-era purges of LGBTQ2+ from the Military and Civil Service. At the time, queerness was seen as a character weakness that was a threat to national security. As a result, the RCMP conducted investigations and collected information on a large number of people, and dismissed those who were suspected of being queer. This has come to be known as the LGBT Purge. It was only in 2017, that the Canadian government formally apologized, and started the compensation process for those subjected to harassment, interrogation, and discriminatory dismissal from the 1950s to 1990s.

All photos in this exhibit are taken by Jearld Moldenhauer, please contact the photographer through his website if you would like to reproduce these photos in any way. 

The Demands