At around the 47 minute mark of Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives, one of the women interviewed, Carol Ritchie-MacKintosh, talks about the persecution of gay men in the mid-20th century:

CRM: Well, at that time, it was illegal to have a house party with only one sex. So you at least had to have two women. Now, you could have 45 men and two women. And as long as the women were discreet and could sit in the library, and let the boys do what they liked, and simply answer the door, there was no problem.

Interviewer: What happened if there weren't women there?

CRM: They would raid it. They would absolutely raid it. They would level it, the police.

I was curious about this and tried to do some internet research on Canadian law during this period but did not find anything. This also reminded me of an oft-circulated myth about laws restricting the number of unrelated women living together, on the premise that a residence with too many such women would constitute a brothel, which made me suspicious.

I believe what is being said here, but was there actually such a law, and if so, could a reference be provided for it? I can imagine that the police might want to raid a single-sex party if they suspected that it was really a gathering for homosexuals, but that is different from saying that all single-sex house parties were unequivocally illegal. (Moreover, I would think that very traditionally-minded people might have accepted or even preferred single-sex parties, for the same reasons for which they might have been supportive of sex-segregated in social or educational settings.)

  • 1
    I doubt that very much. I'm not that old, but my dear mum was. Mixed parties had to be chaperoned. You can't have boys together with girls! you know what might happen... But an all male party or all female party? Why on earth not?
    – Jos
    Mar 23, 2018 at 4:39
  • Any such would have made it effectively illegal for a fraternity house to crack the keg at 5:00, if the girls wouldn't be arriving until after 8:00. Mar 23, 2018 at 11:36
  • Any idea where she was living at the time? Its possible it could have been a provincial law or local ordinance.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:39
  • Is it asserted that there was a legal definition of "party"? There are plenty of male-only organizations, such as Freemasons, that have get-togethers. Mar 23, 2018 at 19:00
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    @Acccumulation There wasn’t, and particularly because male/female-only organisations definitely existed back then, that made me suspicious. My gut instinct is that she’s skipping a lot of context in that statement.
    – Maroon
    Mar 23, 2018 at 21:08


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