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40th anniversary of Pisces Health Spa raids


2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the Pisces Health Spa bathhouse raids by the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

To acknowledge the trauma and impact of the raids, and to show our support to the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Transgender, and Queer (2SLGBTQ+) community, the EPS is releasing a documentary-style video with commentary from local community members sharing their experiences and perspectives.

The Pisces Health Spa bathhouse raid occurred after a lengthy undercover investigation by the then-called Morality Control Unit, on May 30, 1981. As a result, 56 men and 6 employees of the bathhouse were targeted and arrested under bawdy house law despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in the late 1960s. Identities—including names, ages, and occupations—were outed in a public news release to the media. The impact was profound, and trust was fractured; many 2SLGBTQ+ community members, including those who were not present during the raid, experienced humiliation, shame, and stigmatization from this incident. There were also reports of job losses, severed family connections, and suicide.

While the EPS strives to improve equity and inclusion in its approach to policing, we must also acknowledge the role we have played in unfairly targeting the 2SLGBTQ+ community.  It is essential to recognize the impact of our wrongdoings, while working to correct those decisions and actions that created lasting trauma.

For more information on current initiatives as part of our 2SLGBTQ+ Consultation and Reconciliation process, including the newly restructured Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Advisory Council, please visit: https://www.epsinput.ca/lgbtq2s

Additional Readings / References

Gelinas, B. (2010). The night they raided the Pisces club. Retrieved from https://edmontonjournal.com/news/the-night-they-raided-the-pisces-club

History of Canadian Pride. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.queerevents.ca/

Holota, V. (2015). The pisces bathhouse raid. Retrieved from https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2015/05/28/the-pisces-bathhouse-raid/

Hooper, T. (2019). Queering ‘69: The recriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/chr.2018-0082-4

Phair, M & Kerr, T. (2008). Raiding through the backdoor: Pisces remembered. Retrieved from https://xtramagazine.com/power/raiding-through-the-backdoor-pisces-remembered-37473

(Image source: https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2015/05/28/the-pisces-bathhouse-raid)