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Pride Toronto reverses ban on "Israeli apartheid"

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Pride Toronto reverses ban on "Israeli apartheid"

Pride Toronto (PT) has reversed its May board resolution banning the term "Israeli apartheid" and will instead require all participants to sign and abide by the City of Toronto's non-discrimination policy.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) — the target of the ban — has declared a victory and congratulated the queer community for pushing PT to reverse its censorship decision.

"This is a victory for the Palestine solidarity movement, which has faced censorship and bullying tactics from the Israel lobby for far too long," said QuAIA member Tim McCaskell in the release. 

PT's reversal follows outrage in Toronto's queer community, as many condemned the organization for its restrictions on free speech in the parade. Read all of Xtra's coverage of the issue here

Michael Went was one of the founders of the Pride Coalition for Free Speech, a group that formed in the wake of the announcement. They've been working around the clock to organize subversions and competing events since.

Those events included one that attracted 400 people and two others where angry queers marched on the PT offices.

An hour after PT sent out its late-afternoon press release, Went was sitting at a roundtable at a Latin America Pride Coalition for Free Speech meeting to discuss plans for Pride Week.

He was beaming.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," says Went.

Brad Fraser, another member of the coalition, says the ban would not have been lifted had it not been for the popular revolt of queer people over the last month.

"It’s a tremendous victory for anyone who dared to speak out," says Fraser. "I don’t think anyone’s conscience would have turned them around on their own accord, least of all Kyle Rae."

On May 25, QuAIA members and free speech supporters protested at the PT offices. In response to the ban on "Israeli apartheid," both the grand marshal and honoured dyke rejected their appointments. On June 7, more than 20 former PT honorees returned their awards in protest.

Matthew Cutler was at that press conference, where he returned a youth award to PT. Like Went, he too hopes the community can begin healing.

"I don't know that there is an ability to apportion credit. I think we all played a role," says Cutler. "There were many weeks of people feeling as though they were voiceless, and that they weren't being listened to. With today's decision, it's pretty clear that we were being listened to."

This ends PT's second censorship battle this year. In March, PT announced it would vet signs through an "ethics committee," a move that was roundly condemned and was rescinded two weeks later.

Xtra tried to reach PT executive director Tracey Sandilands at her office, but she chose not to comment. A staff person promised that someone from PT would get in touch tomorrow (June 24).


Hundreds packed the June 7 meeting at The 519, where plans were hatched to protest Pride Toronto's censorship decision. (Matt Mills photo)


Read the Pride Toronto release below - more to come:


Pride Toronto has announced that its recent resolution to restrict the use of certain language during the 2010 parade has been replaced by the requirement that each participating group read, sign and agree to abide by the City of Toronto’s Declaration of a Non-Discrimination Policy, and that all groups that uphold this policy are welcome to participate in the 2010 Pride parade.

During a meeting between members of the board of directors, the executive director and well-respected LGBT community leaders Pastor Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church, human rights lawyer and Pride Lifetime Achievement award winner Doug Elliott, and 519 executive director Maura Lawless, the board unanimously voted in favour of a proposal presented by the three.

The proposal is two-fold: the purpose in the short term is to resolve the impasse that the organization has found itself in since moving to disallow the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ in the parade, based on complaints from community members and the assertion by the City of Toronto that the phrase contravenes various city policies. The decision caused widespread dissatisfaction in the queer community and allegations of censorship.

The first motion places the responsibility for determining a violation of city policy back in the hands of the city, as our review process has not established that violation. The second motion establishes a representative advisory panel of community leaders that will lead a broad-based community consultation process with diverse queer communities to recommend a set of strategic principles and a decision-making framework that will help shape future festivals.

“We are extremely grateful to the community leaders that took the time to work on this proposal and help us examine ways to resolve this impasse,” says Pride senior co-chair Genevieve D’Iorio. “The Board’s intention has always been to make the best decision possible to ensure the success of Pride, and we believe that this proposal is a really constructive way forward.”

“There are a large number of people that are sad at the way the community is currently torn over this issue,” says Pastor Brent Hawkes. “Pride has found itself in the middle of a difficult situation, and we felt it was time to step in and see how we could help.”

Doug Elliott agrees. Recently, during a keynote address at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Pride Event, Elliott spoke out about the history of Pride and the way it has changed over the years. “It’s not always possible to meet everyone’s demands,” he says, noting that some of the demands Pride has experienced are ‘unrealistic.’" This solution upholds city policy without unfairly requiring Pride to interpret that policy regarding a controversial legal question. Hopefully this will allow a harmonious parade this year, while a consultative process unfolds to allow community members to have their say in a constructive way about the future rules for the parade and the ongoing relationship between Pride Toronto and the broader LGBTTIQQ2SA communities.”

In a recent press release The 519 called for public consultation and offered its support and resources to help find a resolution. Lawless stated, “This proposal reinforces how important it is that the diverse queer communities help shape the future of Pride, and I think the Board has shown great courage and foresight in committing to consultation and planning for the future.”

The two motions comprising the proposal are as follows:

That the board of directors approve the following resolutions:

1.   Be it resolved that the motion of May 21st regarding language restrictions of groups participating in the 2010 Pride parade be replaced by the requirement that each participating group read and sign and confirm to abide by the City of Toronto’s Declaration of a Non-Discrimination Policy and that all groups that uphold this policy are welcome to participate in the 2010 Pride Parade. Any groups that refuse to sign will not be permitted to participate.

2.   Be it resolved that Pride Toronto appoint a panel of LGBTTIQQ2SA leaders and friends to recommend a policy to protect and advance the qualities of Pride and ensure it is true to its core values and principles.  The mandate of the group would be to consult with the community  to develop recommendations to ensure a Pride that values and promotes freedom of speech and individual expression, inclusiveness and respect, pluralism and diversity, equity and fairness, celebration, humour and fun, and to make recommendations regarding Pride Toronto’s ongoing working relationship with the broader LGBTTIQQ2SA communities.

Over the coming days, parade participants will receive a copy of the city’s Anti-Discrimination Policy with a request to sign and return it ahead of the parade. Meanwhile, the team at Pride Toronto will be working hard to finalize arrangements for the 30th anniversary festival. We look forward to the community coming together to celebrate what Pride means to each individual member.

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I defnitely think that the
I defnitely think that the Kindle is very impressive. I bought one the other day, and I have been reading more than I have in years! . I now subscribe to a newspaper and two magazines, plus I have several books I downloaded, some were even free!
I love Peter James, don't you
I love Peter James, don't you?
Someone called David D says
Someone called David D says "While the efforts of these three community leaders are laudable, I do not recall them participating in any of the many meetings recently held by and within the community on the issues arising from the ban. They essentially are acting on their own, and their proposal does little to address the issues of those of us who have gathered and expressed our distress and concern and have worked together to develop true community solutions to this situation. It certainly doesn't recognize the systemic and structural problems at Pride Toronto that allowed the 'Israeli apartheid' issue to arise, and it doesn't recognize that the Blockorama issue, the Trans participation issue, the Dyke March/events location issue, the larger sponsorship and funding issues and the by-law/mission/mandate/PR agency/strategic direction issues that are all intertwined."

Wow. Where to begin. Yes, how dare some well meaning people give of their own time to help a solution be arrived at when the warring parties couldn't seem to find one on their own. How dare they.

As far as your laundry list of other 'issues', well, the party line the last two months was that it was about free speech. Free speech! Not about where fucking Blockorama should be located! That is an issue, but it is not this issue. Goal achieved.

"Structural issues?" What fucking structural issues? Be fucking specific!!!!!!!!!!! People giving of their time and making the best decisions they could with what was available to them?

If you want the rest of your critical theory fugue state to be realized, then for the love of fucking ass-humping take Pride over and show us how it is done.

Pride made some incredibly stupid decisions lately, however, they've come around. If you think you can do better, then run. And solve your silly list of non-issues separate from this. Because if you represent the QuAIA people, and I think you do, then it was never really about free speech. It was about a hard-line agenda that I'm guessing most Pride participants don't support. It's a whiny 'we are so oppressed' victimization cant that should have been shut down long ago. No one is keeping you from taking over Pride and just doing it. Have your boring little p.c. socialist dream world and see who shows up.

Whiny cunt.
I hope when the time comes
I hope when the time comes that the QuAIA will remember that a lot of us who don't necessarily agree with your group's messaging nonetheless stood behind your right to make legal and political speech and thought that Pride was an entirely appropriate venue for it. That some people are offended is no excuse to shut down a political point of view that is not expressly promoting hatred. I am trying not to be too cynical here, but I have the sneaking suspicion that many of the people allied with QuAIA are not as supportive of free speech as they claim. It's not just about not censoring, it's about giving people the chance to take risks in public and speaking outside the bounds of what is considered politically acceptable at any given time. It's about allowing people to be critical of, for example, Islamism and the connection to terrorist activity, without claiming "Islamophobia" is at work. I hope that what we're seeing here is the birth of a new tolerance for differing points of view. I hope that this new love of free expression is genuine, and not entirely self-serving. Excuse me if I'll wait to see the results before deciding that that is the way it has worked out over the long run. The recent past is hardly conducive to optimism.
Thank you Jerry for your Post
Thank you Jerry for your Post. I want to also say Thank you, to Mammoliti and Rob Ford who are Obviously Not a homophobe as they take a stand for Queer Jews that support Israels right to protect their citizens , and is a Democratic Country that won back their land through war against all the arab countries surrounding their small strip of land. Who's threatening who? I also want to Thank our Gay brother Rocco Rossi for his courageous stand in our community, and showing that he is a balanced intelligent leader as a city leader. thank you to Kyle Ray, Brent Hawkes, and George Smitherman.I am sure our current mayor and other councillors are disapointed for the division in our community. This devision is an example to our larger city that we as a people cant seem to work out our differences, so how are we an example to he middle east.
Congratulations to the queer
Congratulations to the queer community for its principled stand. But just to remind it wasn't only Councillor Mamolitti that was threatening Pride, it was Kyle Rae as well...
it's practical, lets take a
it's practical, lets take a look at just what all the others think, meanwhile...
I am a Queer Jewish Woman,
I am a Queer Jewish Woman, who has been out for 25 years. I never felt the need to protest or stand with Queer Jews in solidarity. After reading all the anti Israeli rhetoric, I believe that the greater implications incites of the accusations flying against the Jewish State at pride has far greater implications for marginalizing and stigmatizing Jewish people and most Queer jewish people who have had alliances and marched in solidarity with all those excepted to march in the parade. While Free Speech is important Quaia's language that state Israeli is Terrorists and attempting to commit genocide against Palestian is both a lie and does incite hate to people who Identify with the Jewish state. I am insulted and feel marginalized in my community. Marginalization is not new to me, so this this for the first time I will support Kulanu at this years Pride. Wishing everyone Peace and joy in celebrating our rights here, and finding new ways to dialogue to be constructive, Not destructive as we would have more power as a unified voice.
LOL Malik, clearly you are
LOL Malik, clearly you are batshit insane if you think Israel is trying to create a jewish empire in the middle east (Conquering Turkey?! LOLOLOL)
I belong to a group that
I belong to a group that marched in solidarity in Edmonton with Toronto QuAIA. WTF and others, you can pretend that you have secret psychic knowledge of the motivations behind everyone involved, and what we supposedly *really* care about and what our political motives *really* are, but all you're doing is weaving a Glenn-Beck like conspiracy theory about everything being connected to Hamas (who I think, just for the record, suck -- but at least I know their history and have a three-dimensional picture of why people in Palestine support them).

You're spinning "secret connections" that reduces everyone to being motivated by a few lines in Hamas charter -- while the truth is right on the surface: People care about censorship of a valid political point of view because they know it will lead to loss of the meaning and roots of Pride. People know their history well enough to know that Pride's been a political event. I agree with the assessment that it was a "last straw" of people fed up with the corporatization of Pride.

As for the rest of you who are saying that QuAIA was out to steal all the attention from Pride or become its focus: you're being ridiculous. Any organization or community that blames the victim for causing all the tension is a dysfunctional one that needs to be analyzed in detail. QuAIA is not the cause of tensions: the City's censorship was. Aim your criticism at the right target, already.

I could go on about the ridiculous charges about groups like mine "singling out Israel," and about how dumb it is we supposedly shouldn't criticise Israel because it's "better" than Palestine on GLBTQ rights, but time's run short for the day...


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