International grand marshals withdraw from Toronto Pride over censorship flap
Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini (pictured), who were appointed international grand marshals for Pride Toronto earlier this year, resigned the honours earlier this morning.
"The decision to resign was motivated by the ban on the expression 'Israeli Apartheid' by the Board of Directors of the Toronto pride," they wrote in a statement from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). " One of the consequences of the ban is the exclusion of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from the pride march."
All mention of them is already gone from Pride Toronto's website.
The move comes as more than 20 past grand marshals, honoured dykes and award recipients gather at Toronto's 519 Church Street Community Centre to renounce their honours as well.
Read Careaga and Sabbadini's letter to Pride Toronto here.
And the text of their press release below:
Brussels, 7 June 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto Pride: International Grand Marshals 2010 resign following ban on the expression “Israeli Apartheid”
Freedom of speech must be at the core of every pride parade
The co-secretaries general of the world largest LGBTI umbrella organisation ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of the Toronto Pride to announce their decision not to take part to the Toronto Pride events as International Grand Marshals 2010.
Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini had been appointed International Grand Marshals 2010 at the end of January this year by the Board of Directors of the pride organising committee.
The decision to resign was motivated by the ban on the expression “Israeli Apartheid” by the Board of Directors of the Toronto pride. One of the consequences of the ban is the exclusion of the group “Queer Against Israeli Apartheid” from the pride march.
“We believe the ban to be a terrible mistake, in complete contradiction with the spirit of freedom and inclusiveness a pride should embody.” – wrote Careaga and Sabbadini in the letter – “Differences of opinion, particularly on non-LGBTI related matters, are to be expected and even welcomed among the participants to a pride march, if we want such march to be the genuine gathering of people from diverse walks of life and different sectors of society united in expressing demand for equality for LGBTI people all over the world.”
“As LGBTI activists” – continued the co-secretaries general of ILGA – “we should be the first to know how unfair it is to be excluded from a public venue because the message we carry could be seen as “inappropriate” or “offensive” to someone. As a matter of fact pride parades have been considered “offensive” from their very inception from a – fortunately decreasing – portion of society. Which is why freedom of expression should be one of the most sacred values at the core of our action.”