Trouble with the police

The queer community has historically had a precarious relationship with police forces, strengthened by events like bathhouse raids and carding practices or police harassment that often target queer people of colour. The queer community has been over-policed while engaging in cruising, sex work, or even merely demonstrating affection towards a partner.

If you are detained, arrested or being searched by the police, it’s important to know that you do have rights. You are being detained if the police have not made it clear that you are free to go; you can ask them if you can go and if they say yes you can walk away. You should only be detained if the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have been involved in criminal activities, which are outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada. You also have the right to ask, and know, when you are being detained or arrested.

If you are detained by the police, they can pat you with their hands to ensure that you are not a threat to them or the public. However, they cannot empty your pockets or your bag; the “frisking” is only meant to find and retrieve possible weapons. If you are being arrested, the police are able to conduct a more thorough search.

You have the right to remain silent, and in most cases, to speak to a lawyer if you have been arrested. Remember that it is important not to resist arrest, because otherwise you may be charged with obstruction of justice.

If you are cruising, be careful because police in Ontario are known to go undercover in plainclothes in effort to attract cruising partners, only to then arrest or fine them.

Helpful Resources

To learn more about your rights when interacting with the police, or if you are stopped by the police while cruising, please contact Queers Crash the Beat

You may also contact us directly