Saturday, May 22, 2010

Muzzling Pride

Facing threats against their funding, the Toronto Gay Pride Parade banned Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, seven year veterans of the Parade from attending.

Participants in Toronto’s Gay Pride parade this year won’t be able to march under the banner Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

Pride Toronto’s Board of Directors voted Friday to ban the term from all Pride-related events, Councillor Kyle Rae confirmed.

No one from Pride Toronto would comment Friday, although they said a news conference will be held Tuesday.

The group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which has marched in Toronto’s annual Pride parade for the past several years, has angered people who feel the name is discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli.

The group, for its part, insists it’s none of those things, but merely critical of the policies of the state of Israel. Pride Toronto’s move is essentially censorship, they say.

Mr. Rae, a long-time champion of gay rights in the city and an opponent of the group’s participation in the parade, said he got an e-mail Friday afternoon from one of Pride Toronto’s board members, telling him “the Pride committee has voted to ban the use of the term Israeli apartheid at all Pride-related events.”

The city has expressed concern over the apartheid name and the consternation it has caused; a motion put forward by councillor and mayoral candidate Giorgio Mammoliti – going before executive committee June 14 – would pull Pride Toronto’s funding if the group didn’t “invoke the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination policies” and reject Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’s application to participate in this year’s parade.

So a term used commonly in the discourse within Israel, used just recently by their current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is now essentially forbidden in Canada.

UPDATE: See Dawg. Those justifying this blatant censorship of criticism of a state's actions argue that Ehud Barak was saying Apartheid may be the future of Israel if things don't change from their current trend line, not the condition currently. That is a matter of legitimate debate, but as an argument for why Barak could use the word but it's still illegitimate for critics of Israel's actions to use it.... pathetic.


Fillibluster said...

I haven't been to Gay Pride in several years but Harper's killing of its funding this year prompted me to decide to go. Now this happens and I think perhaps I should boycott. The whole thing has become so commercialized and subject to too much outside influence. BTW, Mammoliti is a well-known homophobe.

Skinny Dipper said...

Perhaps members of the LGBT community should have a Queerfest on the Toronto Islands to avoid the Disneyfication/Disneyvacation of Pride Week.

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