Stand Together - broadcast version

Nancy Nicol

2002, 100:00 minutes, colour, English


Stand Together is the first comprehensive documentary on the gay liberation movement in Ontario, Canada. It draws together a rich body of documents, images and rarely seen archival footage with dramatizations and interviews, to bring to life a story of justice denied and victories won, outrage and humour, celebration and humanity. Stand Together begins with an examination of the National Security Campaigns in the 1960's when the RCMP investigated thousands of lesbians and gays working in the public service in Canada. Documents obtained under the freedom of information act detail investigations of individuals as 'suspected' or 'alleged' homosexuals working in a wide variety of public service jobs.
After the Criminal Code Amendments decriminalizing homosexual acts between two consenting adults came into effect in 1969, Gay Liberation organizations sprang up across the country. The documentary examines the activities and politics of Gay Liberation and the changing societal attitudes towards homosexuality in the 70's and 80's including rarely seen footage of organized gay bashing on Halloween on Yonge Street in Toronto, and 'zaps' organized by gay liberationists. By June 1977, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recommended the inclusion of 'sexual orientation' in the Ontario Human Rights Code." However by this time, there was growing opposition to gay rights from conservative politicians, police, and religious right groups. The documentary examines the growing backlash to gay rights combined with escalating police raids against the emergent gay community. A section of the video recounts the February 5th, 1981 bath raids in Toronto, when 286 men were arrested and charged as 'found-ins' in raids on four gay steam baths, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history since the War Measure Act in Quebec. On February 6th and 20th an outraged community responded with demonstrations protesting police brutality.
Stand Together traces the history of the Human Rights Amendment Campaign by the Coalition for Gay Rights of Ontario (CGRO) which resulted in a victory on December 2, 1986, when the Ontario legislature voted to include 'sexual orientation' as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Ontario Human Right Code, making Ontario the 2nd province to enshrine such protections.

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