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Queers Against Israel Apartheid quits Toronto parade

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(JTA) — Queers Against Israeli Apartheid said it will not participate in the Toronto Pride Parade.

The group, which has raised controversy with its planned participation in the parade, was announced its decision in an April 15 news release.

Mayor Rob Ford said on the same day that the city should withhold the funds until after the parade to ensure that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid does not actually march. Ford has said he would withhold city funding from the parade if the group participates.

Pride Toronto received $123,807 from the city last year.

Toronto’s city manager said in a report that the group’s participation does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy, allowing the city to go forward with providing funding for the 2011 event. The city said it would fund the parade as long as all of the groups participating adhered to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’s withdrawal was presented by the organization as a "challenge" to Ford. The organization said it will hold its own event this week.

“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” Queers Against Israeli Apartheid  spokesperson Elle Flanders said in the news release. “By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: Fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”

The Canadian Jewish Congress, which has voiced its objection to the organization’s participation, said it was pleased that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid had withdrawn from the parade.

“This is a positive step and reaffirms what Canadian Jewish Congress has been saying all along: There is absolutely no place in the Pride Parade for hateful and discriminatory messages," said CJC’s CEO, Bernie Farber. "The Pride Parade should be about openness and inclusivity and not about divisive, inflammatory messaging, which serves only to create a hostile and toxic environment.”
 

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