Vice Squad
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Little Sister's Saga Continues

For nearly 20 years now, a Vancouver gay and lesbian bookstore has been in litigation with Canada Customs. The latest news is that the bookstore, Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium, will be able to have its court costs fronted by the very government that it is fighting.

The battles with Customs are due to the fact that Customs is in the habit of impounding some of Little Sister's intended future inventory on the grounds of obscenity. A 2000 Canadian Supreme Court decision took Customs to task, and noted that gay and lesbian erotica was singled out by Customs agents. While limiting the time in which Customs could impound material without a court review, the 2000 decision left in place the border checks. Hence, more material has been seized, and the parties are back in court.

The singling out of gay and lesbian erotica by Canadian Customs serves as a strong argument for anti-censorship feminists in their own debates with feminists who support the censorship of pornography, by suggesting that any power to censor is likely to be directed at marginalized parts of society, not at mainstream (male heterosexual) pornography consumers.

Little Sister's maintains a web page that provides a lot of background concerning their litigation.

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