Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to return to Toronto Pride parade this year (TORONTO STAR) Daniel Dale 05/15/12)
TORONTO STAR Articles-Index-Top
The activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid plans to return
to the Pride parade this summer, raising the possibility of another
battle over whether to provide city money to the major gay festival.
The group, also known as QuAIA, skipped Pride last year to deny Mayor
Rob Ford what it called a “pretext” to withdraw the city’s grant.
“We decided we didn’t want to be the scapegoat for Pride not getting
funding from the city. But this year, we feel, well, it’s time to go
back,” QuAIA member Tony Souza said Tuesday. “We are a queer group in
the city. It so happens that the issue we’re talking about is
controversial, but that doesn’t mean that the work that we do, which
is basically for justice for people, should not be celebrated.”
City officials have recommended that council give Pride $123,807.
That would amount to about 8 per cent of the festival’s $1.6 million
budget, co-chair Francisco Alvarez said.
The Pride festival, to be held June 22 to July 1, will publish a list
of groups in early June that have registered to participate. If a
resident then submits a complaint about QuAIA to the festival’s
dispute resolution body, as is likely, a panel of legal experts will
render a final decision on whether it can march.
In 2010, council asked city manager Joe Pennachetti to decide whether
QuAIA contravenes the city’s anti-discrimination policy. He concluded
that it does not, saying “there is no legal precedent” to suggest the
phase “Israeli apartheid” constitutes a hate crime or a violation of
the provincial human rights code.
But Canada’s major Jewish groups consider the implicit comparison of
Israel to apartheid South Africa both odious and inaccurate.
“The funding decision is the city’s itself,” said Howard English,
senior vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish
Affairs. “None of us here at CIJA are members of council. We don’t
have a vote. But we certainly hope that in making its decision,
council keeps in mind the hateful nature of QuAIA’s messaging and the
extent to which it’s divorced from the reality of public opinion
among the people of Toronto.”
In March 2011, Ford told the Canadian Jewish News that “taxpayer
dollars should not go toward funding hate speech.” His spokesperson
did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Council voted in June 2011 to have the city revise the anti-
discrimination policy, but no changes have been brought forward to
date. Souza said Pennachetti’s conclusion that QuAIA satisfies the
existing policy should prevent council from denying funding to Pride
on the basis of the group’s participation.
“They can’t do that. Because the city manager’s report is very clear
that we are not a hate group. You cannot discriminate against us on
the basis of what we do,” he said.
James Pasternak, who is Jewish and one of QuAIA’s most vocal critics
on city council, spoke more cautiously on Tuesday than he did last
“We would hope that Pride says no to bullying and demonization and
yes to respect and tolerance,” he said. But he would not commit to
asking council to withhold the funding if QuAIA is allowed to march.
(© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2012 05/15/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY