TORONTO, June 30 -- Seven men were arrested with allegations of
"being nude in a public place" immediately following the Pride
Day parade. No charges were laid, but each man arrested was
given a summons to appear in court regarding accusations of
being nude in a public place.
(Two months later the Crown agrees that
nudity is not illegal at Pride, and no charges are ever laid.
Read the story...)
At least four plainclothes officers trailed us
throughout the event, video-taping our presence in the parade.
Many others were stationed throughout the parade specifically
to report on our progress. At the end of the parade, more than
20 armed officers wearing bullet-proof vests waited to ensure
that none of us got away, and to prevent any supporters from
interfering with the arrests. This was a needlessly big and
expensive police operation; is this how you want your tax
It is important to make a distinction here: the men were
arrested and given Notices of Appearance to appear in court,
but they have not been officially charged yet.
Before the parade began, one of the plainclothes officers warned the
group that anyone marching naked would be arrested. When
questioned whether they had the consent of the Attorney General
to lay charges, Detective Brian Berger of 52 Division, who
appeared to lead the arresting force, said they did, but
admitted later he wasn't certain. "You know how government
works," he said, "it doesn't actually come directly from the
Attorney General. Someone above directs someone below."
In a meeting on June 7th between Supt. Aidan Maher of 52
Division and representatives of TNT!MEN, Maher stated that a
senior regional Crown Attorney told him that he would be
willing to recommend to the Attorney General that he give his
consent to prosecution only if all three of the following
conditions are met:
- nudity must be clearly visible in the parade
- there must be a reasonable prospect of conviction
- prosecution must be in the public interest
In later discussions with Supt. Maher, he did not reveal
whether the Attorney General of Ontario himself had been
consulted. Det. Berger said, "That's how these things are
Unfortunately for the police, that isn't true. According to
the Criminal Code itself, permission to charge someone under
the Public Nudity provision of the Criminal Code must come from
the Attorney General personally. [174(3)] Additionally, that
consent cannot be obtained or given in advance. And since we
were never informed that his consent had been granted, we had
no reason to believe that police would act on their
Police don't stop nudity in the Parade
Det. Berger and a colleague marched along with the group for
the entire parade. Two of their colleagues stalked us for the
last half of the parade, video-taping the proceedings for
evidence. This is nothing new; the police have been
video-taping us for several years in the parade.
But what is interesting is that they made no move to
discourage, prevent, or stop nudity from occuring during the
parade. If they truly were concerned with public safety, why
didn't they act? Perhaps it was because they knew there was
nothing improper or indecent in what we were doing.
When we gathered at the beginning of the parade, there were 22
in our contingent. Three were scared off by the police threats,
so we began the parade with 19, but that grew during the parade
as people joined us on the route for a time. Altogether, 25 men
participated in the march.
Even though he wore his cock cover for the entire
parade, Peter was also given a summons by police.
Det. Berger is on the right.
The man on the left marched with us for the very
first time. The fellow in the middle is an
undercover cop who followed us for the entire
One they had swept us past, a long line of cops stood guard
to make certain no-one followed us to the arrest area. I guess
they were afraid of protestors or something.
An informed decision
The decision to get naked was an informed choice made by each
participant. Everyone was warned that the police had
threatened to arrest people who marched naked. They knew the
risks, it is true.
But they also knew that any charges laid will eventually be
defeated in court. Victory on this count is inevitable, though
it will take time.
Why risk arrest? Why march nude?
There are two very important issues at stake. The first is
that nudity is neither immoral nor criminal, but is instead an
important way of declaring and accepting oneself as fully
Female nudity is quite common and accepted in our society. You
see it everywhere. And males are frequently nude in advertising
and entertainment, so long as the penis is hidden. Of the entire
human body, only the penis is considered "indecent" by some.
Why? When did penises get so scary? Why has the discomfort some
people feel at the mere sight of them grown to such pathological
In order to combat the unhealthy attitudes and training that
make people fear penises, we feel that marching nude in the
parade goes a long way towards helping people accept penises
for what they really are: an interesting body part that are fun
to look at, fun to play with, and basically pretty harmless.
Nudity at Pride isn't illegal, so use intimidation
The second important issue is that of police oppression. In his
recent report submitted to the Police Services Board on May 30, 2002,
Chief Julian Fantino wrote about consulting other jurisdictions to
determine how they deal with nudity in their Pride parades. He
Several of the police services consulted felt that a level of
responsibility should be placed on the parade's organizing committee.
During these parades, if a participant's behaviour is of concern, the
police may choose to bring it to the attention of the organizing
committee for them to address. Placing a level of responsibility for
proper conduct at the parade on the organizing committee helps avoid
the need for conflict between the police and parade participants. San
Francisco also places what are called 'reasonable requirements' on the
parade permit; no genital nudity is considered one of the reasonable
These suggestions and practices are consistent with the Toronto
Police Service operational plan.
Minutes of the 30 May 2002
Meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, page 79.
In other words, by threatening to withhold future Pride Parade
permits, police can intimidate the organising committees into policing
themselves. Counting on the committees to be ignorant of the true
nature of the law, the police seem to feel free to implement their own
version of the law in this way.
We saw the first attempt at this back in 1997, when the
Toronto Sun reported: "Metro Police are threatening to put a stop
to the annual Gay Pride Day parade, claiming excessive nudity and
perversion at last Sunday's march." (4 July 1997, "Police Rein on
Later that same day, CityTV's CityPulse News at 6 reported the
Transcript of CityPulse at 6
... ANNE: All right, Colin. City Hall's probably glad to hear
tonight about the damage control from Metro Police
regarding the future of the Gay Pride Parade. Reports indicated that police were considering
stopping next year's march. But Laura di Battista finds
top brass tonight saying "Not so fast."
[Video clip of nude marchers at Toronto 1997 Pride
LAURA: Is this obscene and offensive? And should the
entire Gay Pride Day Parade be scrapped because of it?
Those are just a couple of the issues being raised today.
This all comes from a published report from 52 Division
here. A sergeant was quoted as saying, "that, if
nudity at the parade continues, then the parade would
have to be cancelled." But the word from
Headquarters is "No way. That's just one officer's
NEW SPEAKER: It was his own personal opinion that it was
an excessive amount of nudity that would offend the
general standards of the community. But that was his own
personal opinion. It was not the police
CityPulse Transcript, 4 July 1997.
This transcipt was produced
by CityTV and was available online at the time.
Notice how the police say "That is not our opinion." They
clearly understood at the time that marching nude at Pride is
not a violation of community standards, and is therefore not
A few days later, the Toronto Star published this:
No plan to cancel parade despite
nudity, say police
By Bruce DeMara --
Metro police are not planning to cancel next year's
Lesbian and Gay Pride parade and have not expressed
concerns about nudity at this year's event, a police
"No, we're not cancelling the parade," said
Sergeant Marilyn McCann yesterday.
A story in The Toronto Sun yesterday, quoting Sergeant
Peter Harmsen, suggested police would step in and stop next
year's parade after witnessing nudity and other disturbing
incidents last weekend.
But McCann said Deputy Chief Robert Molyneaux, the
supervising officer at the parade, expressed no concerns
except in regard to crowding along the parade route down
Yonge St. - something that will be dealt with prior to next
"The parade went well," McCann said.
"There's no concern about nudity or obscenity. We have
not received any complaints at this time."
Metro police Sergeant Jim Muscat said he believes Harmsen's
quotes were taken out of context after a hypothetical
question was posed to him. Muscat added Harmsen's views
don't "reflect how the police services feels."
Toronto Councillor Pam McConnell said she enjoyed the
"I didn't think (the parade) was over the top, I
thought it was a hoot," she said. "I didn't see
anybody offended by (anything)."
Toronto Star, 5 July 1997
But despite the disclaimers of the police brass, the Pride Committee
for the 1998 parade came to believe that the threat was serious, as was
revealed by a press
release they wrote the next year:
I am writing to advise you
of the Pride Toronto Comittee's position concerning
people that march nude in the Pride Parade.
The Pride Toronto
Commmittee cannot condone activities that are against the
law and that jeopardise our gaining future event permits.
We ask all those who might be contemplating a "Full
Monty Parade" not to do so. Making your point in
this way puts everyone's parade atnd festival at
In the past, not wanting to
harm relations with the broader gay community, the police
have chosen not to intervene on their own initiative and
make arrests of fully naked people within the Pride
Parade route or street festival site. However, after last
year's event, complaints were lodged which we can no
Excerpt from Toronto Pride
Committee Press Release, 22 May 1998.
Notice the use of "we" in the last sentence. Since when was
Pride controlled by people who lodge complaints? Pride started
despite legal police oppression. Many people have complained
that Gay Pride celebrations even exists, but that hasn't
stopped them from being organised year after year, in many
cities around the world.
It seems likely that it was the police who were the
inspirations for that sentence. But not openly; it was done
behind closed doors, away from the light of day.
And yet, when we marched naked (except for footwear) in 1999,
2000, and 2001, the police had nothing to say, and there was no
hint that Pride would be shut down.
Why arrest nudists now?
Simply put, it's a political decision. There is a group of
"family-values" extremists (one of those values is the right to
spank your child!) who oppose everything to do with
homosexuality, sexual freedom, acceptance of diversity, and the
right of the individual to decide what is best for them. They
call themselves "REAL Women". They have opposed every gay
rights initiative in Canada since the 1960s. They don't really
have any polical clout; government and police generally regard
them as nuisances, and pay them little attention.
They started complaining about us marching nude in 1997, once
they heard that we had marched nude without problem. They
wrote then Chief Boothby to complain that no arrests were
made. He ignored them. So they complained to the Ontario
Civil Commission of Police Services, who told them that the
Attorney-General's office had refused its consent to lay such
charges. A speaker for 52 Division said police could not arrest
anyone because such charges were not enforceable.
They didn't like this response, of course. They continued
their complaining each year, without success. Their complaints
in June and October of 2000 to Chief Julian Fantino were
But their complaint to the Ontario Civilian Commission on
Police Services at the end of 2001 (REALity,
Sep/Oct 2001) resulted in the Police Services Board
reviewing the matter. At the Feb 28, 2002 meeting, they
decided that no further action would be taken with regards to
the REAL Women complaint. But Chief Fantino was told to
prepare a report on how other juridictions deal with nudity at
their Pride parades.
Let's force the Crown to deal with it
But now, no doubt getting tired of getting that complaint
each year from REAL Women, it seems the police have decided
to pass the buck. Rather than they and their legal advisors
having to deal with the REALs, the cops have chosen to arrest
us against the advice of the Crown, and force the Crown and
perhaps the courts to deal with the matter.
And don't forget intimidation
They also tried the intimidation approach again.
Fortunately, the current Pride committee wouldn't budge. They
know that police do have the authority to give out or deny
parade permits; only City Hall can do that. So they told the
police that it is not their job to interpret or enforce the
law. That's up to the courts and the police, respectively.
And unfortunately, the police have once again
decided to ignore the decision of the courts. The Supreme Court
of Canada has ruled that if you are wearing anything at all,
even just footwear, then you must be "so clad as to offend
against public decency." And the Appeals Court of Ontario has
said that "public decency" in this case must refer to a
tolerance of the risk of harm people are exposed to in viewing
an "indencent" person. Given that no-one was harmed in 1996,
1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, or 2002 at Toronto's Gay Pride parade,
or for that matter at any other event featuring public nudity,
such as Spencer Tunick's recent photo shoot on the streets of
Montreal featuring over 2,000 people, or the world-famous Bay
to Breakers runs in San Francisco which feature up to a hundred
nudists among the thousands of runners, the courts are
compelled to dismiss the charges.
Has the Attorney General actually given his consent for
charges to be laid? We haven't been told yet. Stay tuned for
For more info, please contact:
TNT!MEN Secretary and Legal Counsel
September 12, 2002: Crown Agrees
Nudity is Legal!
Crown Attorney Paul Culver conceded today that there is
no possibility of a conviction for public nudity at
Pride. The summons to appear in court the men were
given are dropped, and no charges are ever laid!
August 7, 2002:
Peter Simm went to the Court room at the scheduled
time, and immediately noticed that this case wasn't
included on the list for the day's cases. He spoke
with a junior Crown Attorney who was also confused that
the case wasn't listed. She knew it was to be delayed
until Sep 18, but this can't be formally done unless
the matter was on list for that day.
After trekking around Old City Hall, Peter met with
another Crown Attorney who apologised on behalf of
Senior Crown Attorney Paul Culver that he came to court
for nothing. She had no explanation for the mix-up.
She mentioned that she had tried reaching Paul Culver
and the police officer in charge of the arrests, but
neither was available.
July 30, 2002:
Peter Simm received a fax from Paul Culver, the Regional
Senior Crown Attorney. He asks that the August 7 court
appearance be delayed until September 18. He writes:
"Please be advised that we will
require further time to consider the position of the
Crown with respect to the issue of whether to proceed
with these charges against your clients. Although our
legal research has been completed, we require further
time to consider the many "policy" issues that you raise
in your brief. As you can appreciate, the decision of
the Crown in this particular case may have other
implications in the future. Because of the summer
vacation period, it has been difficult to meet with
those that have a concern with these issues."
Peter Simm responds: "Reading
between the lines, it appears the Crown has accepted my
analysis. The Crown is now determining if there is a
reasonable prospect of a conviction, given the
particulars of the case. Culver is trying to see if he
can conjure up "a reasonable apprehension of a
substantial risk of harm to on-lookers or society". I
don't think he can. It is in our best interest to allow
him more time to satisfy himself of this."
July 5, 2002:
As of today, the police have still not contacted the
Crown Attorney's office regarding this matter. Only if
the Crown Attorney believes that a conviction is
possible will the matter be passed on to the Attorney
General. Peter Simm is send the Crown Attorney a legal
brief summarising his arguments. We believe there is a
good chance that no charges will actually be
From: Luke Subject: Pride Day
outraged to hear about the police harassment you suffered
in Toronto last weekend. If I had been able to be in
Toronto, I would have been marching with you... Your
philosophies are dead on and I have always been 100% in
favour of them. I love being nude whenever and wherever
possible and had some of my most fun times in Toronto
when I have participated in events you have sponsored,
such as the nude swims and naked night at the Toolbox. I
am also very proud to have my web site as part of your links page.
wish you well. I know you will prevail, as you have done
in the past.
to TNT!MEN! Power to public nudity! Power to the penis!
Criminal Code of
who, without lawful excuse,
is guilty of an
offence punishable on summary conviction.
nude in a public place, or
nude and exposed to view while on private property,
whether or not the property is his own,
the purposed of this section, a person is nude who is so clad
as to offend against public decency or order.
proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the
consent of the Attorney General.
Letter to the Editor
arrested for public nudity in the pride parade, one of
the Censored Seven in TNT!MEN's marching contingent.
I discovered a gathering of gay male nudists, hosted by
Gay Naturists International (GNI), and couldn't get
myself and my partner there fast enough. Up to 800 men
converge for a week of summer fun in Pennsylvania's
Pocono Mtns. I found my tribe, and haven't looked
1994, my partner and I attended Stonewall 25 in NYC, and
happened upon some Radical Faeries marching naked in the
parade. We joined them, shedding our clothes. It was
1996, a fellow nudist and I stripped and walked naked in
the Toronto Gay Pride parade. Thank-you to the Black
Eagle's contingent who gave us support and encouragement
then, my partner and I have continued to help facilitate
TNT!MEN's presence at the Pride Day celebrations and in
the parade. There has been controversy surrounding our
nakedness, but we have made incredible
to let people know that there is a strong gay nudist
movement in the USA, parts of Europe, and in Vancouver
and T.O.. The concept is burgeoning, at least as a gay
holiday, if not a total lifestyle.
equate this movement with the earlier years of the gay
movement itself, when one went to P-Town, NYC or SF for
the total gay experience.
had 370 at our nude Pride dance at the Barn. Thanks to
those visiting T.O..
and lesbians have made their presence known and gained
acceptance in the larger population, nudists too will
claim their place. Let's not make our choices out of
fear, ignorance or intimidation. I see nothing shocking
or disturbing about expressing my love for my own sex or
my desire to shed my clothes. In my heart I know this is
right for me.
spite of the citation, I had the most fabulous Pride.
have dicks; get used to it! And then get naked.
short version was printed in NOW, 18 July 2002.
REALity July-August 1998
The Newsletter of R.E.A.L. Women
A group of men
marched completely nude in the 1997 Toronto Gay Pride
Parade.... The Metropolitan Toronto Police, 52 Division
(responsible for the Gay Pride Day Parade), advised us
that the Attorney-General's office had refused its
consent to lay such charges. Superintendent James Parkin,
also of 52 Division, wrote to say that his Division could
not lay charges on the grounds that such charges were not
Subject: Thanks to you and TNT!MEN
I want to thank you and the guys of TNT for allowing my
friend Rik and me the privilege of marching with you in the
Pride Parade Sunday. For me it was a real thrill, a
fantasy fulfilled, to march totally naked in a parade and
seen by hundreds of thousands of people. And to show to
people, if not the police, that civilization as they know
it doesn't come to an end when they see a naked man in
I will be forever grateful to you and will revere you
for making the suggestion that we just slip away: you saved
Rik and me a world of trouble. My exhilaration about the
parade is mixed with sadness that other guys, who did no
more than I did, and in Peter's case, did less so far as
coverage went, suffered arrest for it.
In gratitude to TNT, I would like to make a small
contribution to help with legal costs of defense. ...
Rik and I got out to Hanlan's Point Monday, using a
water taxi, and enjoyed that accomplishment of you guys. A
fair number of people had managed to get out there, but it
wasn't nearly as crowded as it would have been if the
ferries had been running. It was amusing to me that the
one place the signs tell you how to find is the C.O.
beach. Here in the States, public signs usually don't tell
you how to find the C.O. beaches.
If you have the time and opportunity, I would love to
see any pics you might have of me. Of course if sending
them directly is a problem, I can wait until you post them
to the web site.
We made it home to Virginia in one long day of driving
Subject: charges of nudity...
I just read a blurb about the parade and arrests and
want to first offer my support/condolances, and also what I
say to people when they (often) complain about nudity in
Have you seen the incredible amount of physical violence
that children are "subjected" to on TV, in film, and on
those computer games? Heads roll, bodies are blown apart,
blood splattered everywhere... Oh ya, rape scenes are also
quite common on the tube. However, we get all squeeked over
passion, gentle intimate sex and nudity. Most people will
recognize that the violence is not a good role model, and
that in fact nudity is nothing but natural. (Did I mention
I'm a nudist?)
Second, to you, TNT!MEN, as a woman I can tell you that
breasts are also under attack, and have been my entire
life. No consolation, but we women are constantly under
scrutiny in the breast area, and no amount of covering up
can stop it! We now have the legal right to go topless
anywhere that men can, but the difference between legal and
safe/comfortable is great. Still, I appreciate the law
change and hope that society will follow and eventually
topless women will be as common a sight as men topless.
Good luck with your trial.
Subject: To the "Censored Seven"
My apologies for taking so long to send you this
message, but ever since my return from Toronto Pride I've
been caught up with preparations for our Pride celebrations
here in Ottawa this weekend. I'm with GoNuts (Gay Ottawa
Naked Under the Sun) and we're participating in the Ottawa
Pride information fair for the first time.
I have been wanting to write to express my whole-hearted
support for those of my fellow naked marchers who had to
suffer the indignity of receiving a court summons from
"Toronto's finest" at the conclusion of the parade. This
was my second year marching with TNT!MEN in the Pride
parade and I can say that I wouldn't miss it for the world.
It is truly one of the most liberating and exhilarating
experiences I've ever had. I can't think of a better way to
celebrate my love for being naked and the beauty of the
I was appalled that the police actually decided to act
on their warnings of arrest of naked marchers, in spite of
an emerging "tradition" over the past few years of turning
a blind eye to the men of TNT!MEN. Although I was not one
of those escorted to the police station (nor were the other
two marchers from Ottawa), I want to say that I stand
firmly behind all of you who were given summonses.
Although I'm here in Ottawa, if there is anything I can do
to help, I would be most willing.
Thank you Toronto, for your tireless efforts to make at
least part of Canada more naked! It sets a high standard
for the rest of us.
In naked solidarity,
Paul from Ottawa