Gay Films Seized in Canada

Clapham Junction by Adrian Shergold
Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth in I Can't Think Straight
Patrik Age. 1.5 by Ella Lemhagen
Clapham Junction by Adrian Shergold (top); Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth in I Can't Think Straight (middle); Patrik Age. 1.5 by Ella Lemhagen (bottom)

Canada an egalitarian gay haven? Think again.

Marcus McCann reports in that Canada Border Services Agency customs officers have seized three gay-themed films en route to Ottawa's three-day Inside Out gay film festival, which ends tomorrow, Nov. 22. No explanation was given for the seizure – which, of course, is exactly what you'd expect to happen in a true democracy. The films are supposed to remain in custody until they're watched in full by some border censor or other. (Curiously, the Inside Out website makes no mention of the border incident.)

The three films in question are Adrian Shergold's made-for-TV Clapham Junction, which follows a group of gay men in Clapham, South London, and which has some nudity; Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight, a Middle East-set lesbian love story starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth; and Ella Lemhagen's PG-rated Patrik Age. 1.5, the story of a gay couple who mistakenly end up adopting a teen thug. All three films have already been screened elsewhere in Canada. All three are Here! releases, a US-based distributor of gay-themed movies.

In the past, Canadian customs officials have been accused of harassing gays, and of arbitrarily confiscating gay literature and movies. Despite the country's reputation of being more “liberal” than its southern neighbor, its customs cops, obsessed with obscenity, are known as anything but – especially when it comes to homosexuality. In 2000, the Vancouver-based bookstore Little Sister's sued the CBSA, taking the matter all the way to Canada's Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the bookstore. Clearly, the ruling hasn't prevented the agency from going after other gay-oriented venues.

When told about the pending fate of the festival's three films, festivalgoers booed and hissed upon hearing mention of the CBSA.

Now, the question is: why haven't those bigots been sued again so they'll stop – for good – their anti-gay harassment?

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