Main | Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Toronto Pride Threatened With Defunding Over Anti-Israeli Apartheid Group

A group of Toronto city commissioners is once again threatening to pull the funding for Pride Toronto due to the planned inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the parade.  Similar flaps have arisen in recent years.  Peter Tatchell writes via email:
The demand that a pro-Palestinian slogan and organisation are banned from the Toronto Pride parade is censorship. It’s a direct attack on free speech and the right to protest. The threat to cut funding is tantamount to blackmail. Pride parades should be open to all individuals and organisations that support LGBT human rights. There should be no political vetting, unless the participants are homophobic, incite violence or oppose human rights. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is not supporting violence against Jews or Israelis. They are merely protesting against the Israeli occupation and the abusive mistreatment and humiliation of the Palestinian people. This occupation and mistreatment hurts both straight and LGBT Palestinians.
Canada's Xtra reported on the situation late last month.
Councillor Shelley Carroll confirmed to Xtra that Councillor David Shiner plans to ignore the advice of city staff and submit a motion to remove Pride’s cultural grant as a penalty for allowing the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) to participate in the Pride parade. Instead, Shiner later moved a motion to defer the item until the next executive committee meeting, May 28. It would then head to council in June.

This means that Pride — which attracts more than one million people and annually brings tens of millions of dollars into Toronto — won’t know whether it will receive the city’s annual grant of $123,807 until just days before the festival is set to begin. This is the third year Pride has faced a censorship battle with a small handful of councillors just as planning for the event kicks into high gear.
Tatchell marched with the group in New York City's parade in 2011.

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