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Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives: Homophobic Violence

Homophobic Violence

Bathhouse culture became more prominent in the gay community with the opening of The Office Sauna Bath at 1060 Main Street in 1972. The Office featured six rooms, 15 lockers, a sauna and a movie room. The Hill remained a prominent place for gay cruising, however, violence became more severe and frequent in the late 1970s as the location became a publicly known area. In an effort to curb these actions, the Tory government ordered the installation of traffic gates around the Legislative Building.

Cover of Homophobic Assault: A Study of Anti-Gay Violence

On September 13, 1978, thirty-one-year-old Peter Petkaw was found unconscious on the bank of the Assiniboine River with a broken skull, leg and six fractured ribs. Thirteen days later he was pronounced dead in the hospital having succumbed to his injuries. The following six months of various community meetings, protests, and public memorials demanding justice and an end to violence against gays was met by the eighteen-year-old John Usher receiving a life sentence in prison on February 23, 1979 for the murder of Petkaw. On June 30, 1991, forty-eight-year-old Gordon Kuhtey was murdered on the Hill. Four men in their twenties who held neo-fascist beliefs were arrested and charged for Kuhtey’s murder some five years after the incident. Multiple attempts by the gay community to erect a memorial to the victims of homophobic violence on the legislative grounds were rejected by city council. The history of the gay community in Winnipeg consists of many other accounts of violence and the victimization.
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