| Just Out
|CANADA-SEX by Deborah Jones
VANCOUVER Canada, June 26 Sapa-AFP
POLICE, SEX ACTIVISTS LIKELY TO CLASH OVER CONTROVERSIAL PLAY
The controversy over a play in which two actors will actually
have oral sex on stage in British Columbia has yet to subside in
the weeks since its playwright announced his desire to challenge
Canadian obscenity laws.
Vancouver police, who had labeled the performance set to debut
Thursday an "immoral theatrical performance," plan to charge the
participants with breaking Canada's criminal code.
The code makes it an offence to "either take part in an immoral,
indecent or obscene performance, or to permit such a performance in
a theatre." The play "Public Sex, Art and Democracy," which has generated
widespread Canadian media coverage, is scheduled to run for three
nights starting Thursday -- already the first night's performance
has sold out.
John Ince, a lawyer and self-described sex activist, will hold
the shows that can accommodate audiences of up to 35 people at the
Art of Loving sex shop and erotic art gallery, which he co-owns,
after another theater backed out fearing police action.
He believes that such laws are not enforceable under the
Canadian constitution. "Basically, the law states that you can't present an obscene
performance and then defines obscene in mumbo-jumbo"
language, said Ince, who wrote the play to protest society's fears about
The play, whose tickets will cost 20 dollars (15 US dollars),
will open, said Ince, with a staged conversation between himself
and local artist and art instructor Martin Guderna, whose art
exhibition, Labyrinth Soixante-Neuf, premieres at the same time.
Ince and Guderna will talk about people's fears regarding sex,
after which two amateur actors will have oral sex in the "69"
Ince called the performance private, for a willing audience,
saying no one would be hurt by it. The local police do not agree.
"Essentially what you have here is having sex in public," said
Constable Sarah Bloor of the Vancouver Police Department, adding
"police would proceed with charges."
Ince said if the police do lay charges, "we will slap a
multi-million dollar lawsuit on them for violating our
constitutional rights." He suggested that a police raid of the performance would be
equivalent to police raiding a synagogue or temple "because what
was going on there offended the community, (for example) reading
holy books deeply offensive to evangelistic Christians."
"There is a highly undemocratic system, we call it an
eroto-toxic system, which generates the fear of sexuality in the
minds of all of us," Ince said in an interview, while acknowledging
that the actors "might get busted for this."
"It's time to stand up to these undemocratic laws that would
target artistic and ideological expressions of which this play is
an example," he said, saying it will be the first play in which an
actual, rather than simulated, sex act takes place on a North
"There might have been explicit acts in a strip bar... but never
in an artistic context." If charges are laid, it will be up to the courts to decide if
sex in an art gallery and theatre is "obscene."
In 1992, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that violent, degrading or
dehumanizing sex was obscene, but that simple explicit sex was not,
in videotaped or published material.
The courts have not previously had to decide on such a challenge
to obscenity laws as applied to theatre.
The controversy has caught the eye of several Canadian news
outlets, with one Vancouver Sun columnist, Ian Mulgrew, writing:
"It's time our sex laws caught up with modernity, especially now
the Supreme Court of Canada has weighed in and sanctified gay
Source : Sapa-AFP