Hot Debate Over Canadian Stripper Program

TORONTO, ON – In the midst of preparations for Toronto’s “Gay Pride” week, the Canadian government is being accused of possible “dirty tricks” surrounding the recent temporary suspension of its Exotic Dancer Program. While the program was shut down thanks to international pressure from anti-trafficking groups, a court challenge against the closure of the program may reinstate it, saving the government the political ramifications.

The latest in a long series of controversies and scandals around the program surrounds a group of six American male strippers, referred to by the Globe and Mail as “the Backstreet Boys of the gay adult entertainment world”, who recently applied for a temporary work visa under Canada’s infamous Exotic Dancer Program. The program, which opened wide the doors to the importing of foreign strippers in order to fill so-called ‘labour market needs’, has repeatedly come under fire by human rights groups, citing repeated instances of forced prostitution and other forms of exploitation and slavery.

The group of male strippers was scheduled to perform at Remington’s strip club in downtown Toronto, with the event set to coincide with Gay Pride week. However, their plans have been derailed as their application for a work visa under the Exotic Dancer Program has been denied. A letter sent to the group informed them that “no new applications are to be processed for any types of exotic dancers until such time as we have in place the appropriate framework.”

The lawyer for the agency representing the six men is challenging the decision on their behalf, in the hope of overturning the suspension of the controversial program and obtaining the work visas.

Gregory Carlin of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition, which has consistently denounced the Canadian government for its implicit and active cooperation with international slave-trafficking, told that he is concerned that all isn’t as it appears.

“The Canadian govt. has an appalling track record for ‘proxy’ initiatives,” said Carlin. “They have waged a constant campaign of dirty tricks against the global anti-slavery movement. If this turns out to be another attempt by the Govt. to ‘constructively’ lose in court, I shall be very angry.”

While the controversial strip club which had its imported strippers barred is claiming it will hurt gay pride week, even gay pride week organizers are backing away from the controversy. While the lawyer representing the US porn stars, Michael Battista says “it’s having an unintended impact on the gay community,” the official gay pride organizer says they have nothing to do with gay pride. Gay Pride organizer Frank Chester distancing himself from the legal challenge to the decision to refuse entrance to the strippers, said “The event at Remington’s is not associated with our organization other than it’s scheduling by the owners of the establishment to take place during Pride Week.”

Carlin of the Irish Anti-Trafficking coalition told “I will be contacting the Canadian authorities to advise them that we would take a dim view of gay rights being exploited for the purposes of sex trafficking of juveniles and foreign females to Canada…The Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition will be lodging a protest with Immigration Minister Joe Volpe and Premier Martin.”

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