Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to march in Toronto Pride parade

TORONTO (JTA) — The group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid will take part in this year’s Toronto Pride parade.

For the first time in five years, there has been no organized opposition to QuAIA participating in the parade, which will be held June 29. Jewish community and some city officials have opposed the group joining in the past.

“People got pretty tired over the years of the same fight,” Martin Gladstone, a Toronto lawyer and gay rights activist, told the Jewish Tribune. “These guys don’t quit and everyone’s tired of giving them oxygen.”

A 2012 report by Toronto’s Department of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights concluded that the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” did not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy. A dispute resolution committee later ruled that QuAIA’s message was not discriminatory toward the Jewish community.

The City Council approved $160,500 in funding this year for Pride Toronto, an increase of $20,540 over last year. However, the budget passed with an amendment introduced by City Councillor James Pasternak, who is Jewish, requiring that groups receiving cultural funding understand that the failure to comply with the city’s new anti-discrimination policy could result in the forfeiture of current and future money.

It also asks the City Council to “affirm its view that Toronto remain a destination of respect, tolerance and safety, and that the importation of world conflict zones is contrary to these ideals.”

Opposition to QuAIA this year “was extremely quiet,” Pasternak told the Tribune. “No advocacy organizations, no deputations; it was very strange.”

He added, “Since nobody came out, I took the initiative and moved this motion.”

Toronto’s Jewish gays are “100 percent focused on not allowing ourselves to get distracted by QuAIA this year,” said Justine Apple, executive director of Kulanu, the Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group. “We’re here for the Jewish LGBT community at large.”

This year, the Canadian city also is hosting WorldPride, a 10-day festival that attracts LGBTQ people from around the world.

 

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