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Montreal’s Gay Village – Safe or Unsafe?

In response to the concerns of the residents of Montreal’s Gay Village regarding the recently rumoured increase in violence, homophobic in nature or not, The Political Bouillon decided to analyze the local issue by speaking to people on the ground.

Living in Montreal, it’s easy to believe that all is swell in the world. Montreal is a cultural bubble, a free space to which people flock in order to celebrate the perks of our modern times. However, the world itself is not so peaceful; it’s a fighting ring. Montreal’s Gay Village, to many LGBT people around the world, as well as many from the more rural areas surrounding the city,  is a shining beacon of hope.

When individuals who frequently visit the area were asked “Have you noticed an increase in violence and/or homophobia in Montreal’s Gay Village?” responses, contrarily to what may be expected after watching local news, were not varied. “No” was the dominant answer. One individual responded: ” The village can be dangerous, Berri-UQAM is not a safe area late at night, and neither is past Beaudry. I don’t really think it’s Gay specific, this sort of thing happens all the time.”

As the Journal de Montréal reported last month, a striking incident did happen in the street outside the well known SKY complex to DJ Alain Jackinsky and his roommate that were attacked by four to five people. The main victim characterized the event as homophobic according to a statement on his Facebook page. A few weeks prior to this, eyewitnesses reported a beating in front of the Village’s Metro grocery store, an individual attacked by a group of five people. The violence mentioned by some who often visit the neighbourhood’s bars appears to be spontaneous, random, however not so frequent.

In order to counter the violence, a movement has been created with the help of a Facebook page: Collectif Carré Rose. The page rapidly gained popularity after the DJ’s incident and its visibility has won the attention of the SPVM. The authorities claim they have already increased police presence on Saint-Catherine’s to better insure security when the bars close around 3 AM.

The local police station, number 22, is aware of the problem, but says that people are reluctant to make any real complaints. The Collectif Carré Rose is dedicated to solving this specific problem, it can be compared to movements the village has had in the past such as the “J’aime mon village” campaign that concentrated on specific problems in the neighbourhood. The more visibility the Facebook page gains, the more pressure the organization can apply on local authorities.

The PDQ 22, when questioned about the issue, signalled that the SPVM does not believe there is a situation at all. They have noted that public perception has been distorted by the stories brought up in local media, and are engaging in an effort to reassure the population by making their presence more visible. They claim violence in the Gay Village has been steadily decreasing over the years, and there is no reason to be alarmed.

Before attention was recently brought by local media to this issue, a rather pretentious article criticizing the very need for a “gay” neighbourhood appeared last summer in La Presse. The piece served to illustrate how the moral progress the LGBT community has fought for so dearly, over many generations, is so easily taken for granted by many. Homophobia is certainly real accross the globe. As a matter of principle, the powerful symbol of freedom and security that is the Village, through its simple existence, should not be dismissed; and above all, violence must not be the headline the world reads.

Mathieu Paul Dumont

Photo Credit: Flickr Some rights reserved by kcclaveria.com

About Mathieu Paul Dumont

Student of Political Science and Philosophy at Concordia University. Mathieu now resides in Montreal but is originally from Sherbrooke, Quebec. His interests include conflict resolution, political philosophy and he follows such arts as fashion and music closely. His focus is primarily set on the Middle-East, but also towards other conflicted regions. He joined The Political Bouillon for the pleasure of writing and hopes to see the journal grow to include students from all four of Montreal’s universities.

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