Gays can't say 'Israeli apartheid' in Toronto

Let them in the parade and let people along the parade route judge for themselves. I've booed and shouted opinions at a few organizations in gay pride parades.

Do we have to act as if everyone with a sign in a gay pride parade has to follow a certain script?

Geena, June 9, 2010 12:29 PM

It's strange that the phrase 'Israeli apartheid' is now banned at a major political event in Toronto. This involves a pro-Palestinian group that has marched in Toronto's gay pride parade for many years, as have groups supporting Israeli government policies. That 'both sides' approach seems so civilized and democratic, but times are a-changing and not for the better.

Pride festival bans 'Israeli apartheid'

Toronto parade marshal resigns in protest
By Carmen Chai
Windsor Star
June 8, 2010  

This year's Toronto Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal has resigned and 23 former Pride Toronto activists announced on Monday they have pulled out of Pride festivities after organizers banned the term "Israeli apartheid" from its 10-day event.

"Pride's recent decision to ban the term 'Israeli apartheid' and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices," said Alan Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto who rejected his appointment as grand marshal.

"Pride's choice to take a pre-emptive step to censor our own communities' voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression." . . .

Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit organization that hosts an annual festival held during the first weekend of July in Toronto. With attendance of more than 1.2 million people, it is the third-largest Pride celebration in the world and the largest in North America.

Pride would have lost as much as $600,000 in sponsorship money and city funding," at least that's the word from Pride Toronto, organizers of the the march, so they had to to betray free speech.

Len Rudner, Ontario director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said characterizing the dispute as matter of free speech versus censorship is inaccurate.

“This is not about free speech, this is about financial accountability,” said Mr. Rudner.

“The Pride committee found itself in a situation where it had to consider whether it was placing its funding in jeopardy.”

As usual, the language of politically correct censorship was employed by the oppressors (p.c. arguments answered well by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (pdf) (in short, it's a parade, not a work environment)):

PT issued a statement on its website, saying the decision to ban the term "Israeli Apartheid" was not taken lightly.

"The board of Pride Toronto listened to members of our community," it said. "What we heard overwhelmingly was that the use of the words 'Israeli Apartheid' made participants feel unsafe."

Tim McCaskell, a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), spoke to Xtra after PT's release.

"If people feel unsafe, I would suggest that they are being manipulated," he said. "If the word is 'uncomfortable,' well, Pride makes a lot of people uncomfortable."

Oh, and yeah, Israel's rule in the occupied territory fully qualifies as apartheid. As the folks who know say:

'This is like apartheid': ANC veterans visit West Bank
By Donald Macintyre in Hebron
Friday, 11 July 2008

Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle said last night that the restrictions endured by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories was in some respects worse than that imposed on the black majority under white rule in South Africa.

Members of a 23-strong human-rights team of prominent South Africans cited the impact of the Israeli military's separation barrier, checkpoints, the permit system for Palestinian travel, and the extent to which Palestinians are barred from using roads in the West Bank.

After a five-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, some delegates expressed shock and dismay at conditions in the Israeli-controlled heart of Hebron. Uniquely among West Bank cities, 800 settlers now live there and segregation has seen the closure of nearly 3,000 Palestinian businesses and housing units. Palestinian cars (and in some sections pedestrians) are prohibited from using the once busy streets.

"Even with the system of permits, even with the limits of movement to South Africa, we never had as much restriction on movement as I see for the people here," said an ANC parliamentarian, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge of the West Bank. "There are areas in which people would live their whole lifetime without visiting because it's impossible."

Mrs Madlala-Routledge, a former deputy health minister in President Thabo Mbeki's government, added: "While I want to be careful not to characterise everything that I see here as apartheid, I just do find comparisons in a number of places. I also find differences."

Comparisons with apartheid have long been anathema to majority Israeli opinion, though they have been somewhat less taboo since the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last year warned that without an early two-state agreement Israel could face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights.

Fatima Hassan, a leading South African human rights lawyer, said: "The issue of separate roads, [different registration] of cars driven by different nationalities, the indignity of producing a permit any time a soldier asks for it, and of waiting in long queues in the boiling sun at checkpoints just to enter your own city, I think is worse than what we experienced during apartheid." She was speaking after the tour, which included a visit to the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem and a meeting with Israel's Chief Justice, Dorit Beinisch.

One prominent member of the delegation, who declined to be named, said South Africa had been "much poorer" both during and after apartheid than the Palestinian territories. But he added: "The daily indignity to which the Palestinian population is subjected far outstrips the apartheid regime. And the effectiveness with which the bureaucracy implements the repressive measures far exceed that of the apartheid regime."

Whether Israel within its pre-1967 borders is an apartheid state, I'd say not, but this website disagrees with me: ISRAELI APARTHEID LAWS

Tags: Israeli apartheid, Israel, Palestine, free speech, Censorship, gay identity (all tags)



As far as we're aware, Canada is still a democracy.


If the parade is to be on public streets, then the Queers group should have their own counter parade. And other groups involved should boycott it.


by MainStreet 2010-06-10 02:19PM | 0 recs
RE: As far as we're aware, Canada is still a democracy.

They are organizing their own counter-parade. But in a 'public forum' like a civil rights parade people should have free speech. Folks on the sidewalk can boo or cheer as they see fit. That's how free speech in a functioning democratic society should work: one parade, every point of view that wants to participate involved. But, 'democracy' in the the U.S. and Canada ain't what it used to be.

by fairleft 2010-06-10 03:46PM | 0 recs
Glad to hear about the counter parade.

Do you have a link to that development?


by MainStreet 2010-06-10 05:19PM | 0 recs
RE: Glad to hear about the counter parade.

Here's the news story on that. Go here for latest developments.

by fairleft 2010-06-10 06:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Glad to hear about the counter parade.


by MainStreet 2010-06-10 10:53PM | 0 recs
RE: Recent reactions to the censorship:
InterPride clarifies, contradicts Pride Toronto
- June 11, 2010

The stewards of the World Pride franchise issued a press release late yesterday about the Pride Toronto censorship controversy. In it the international association of Pride organizers, Interpride, neither supports nor condemns Pride Toronto's choice to censor the term "Israeli apartheid" from this year's Toronto Pride parade. Interpride's stated aim in issuing the release is, rather, to clear up what it sees as a misperception.

The 519 condemns Pride Toronto's censorship
- June 10, 2010

The 519 Community Centre added its voice to the chorus of queer leaders and organizations urging Pride Toronto to reverse its decision to censor the term "Israeli Apartheid" from the parade. It also chastises the City of Toronto for applying political pressure on Pride Toronto to have Queers Against Israeli Apartheid yanked from this year's Parade.

Pride Toronto performers weigh censorship controversy: To play or not to play?
- June 10, 2010

Soon after Pride Toronto chose to censor the term "Israeli apartheid" the anarchic folk-rock band Tomboyfriend pulled out in protest. At the packed town hall meeting held at the 519 Church St Community Centre on June 7, lead singer/songwriter Ryan Kamstra expressed surprise that no other bands had yet done the same. Speakers pull out of Pride Toronto human rights event
- June 10, 2010

All speakers at Pride Toronto's June 28 human rights event have pulled out, citing Pride's censorship of "Israeli apartheid." Sandilands makes Pride Toronto's case to international Pride communities
- June 9, 2010

In an email obtained by Xtra, Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands makes the case for censorship to the international community of Pride organizations.  Former ED sends a wake-up call to Pride Toronto
- June 9, 2010

Pride Toronto's former executive director Fatima Amarshi urges the organization's current leadership to "wake up" and reverse the ban on "Israeli apartheid."

Mark Tewksbury: Pride Toronto made 'a really bad decision'
- June 9, 2010

Canadian Olympic gold medalist and gay activist Mark Tewksbury has added his voice to a growing list of queers condemning censorship at Pride Toronto.

Also this week: organizers of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids and Pussy Palace panels withdrew their events from this year's Pride celebrations.

  One for Toronto's queer history books
- June 8, 2010

It was a huge day yesterday for Toronto’s gay and lesbian communities. Just after sunrise, this year’s international grand marshals withdrew from this year's pride celebration. Then more than 20 past- and present-honoured dykes, grand marshals and Pride-award recipients renounced their accolades, leaving statuettes on Pride Toronto’s (PT) doorstep.   Watch: Town hall on free speech at Toronto Pride
- June 7, 2010

It was standing-room only as hundreds packed the auditorium at The 519 for a community meeting on free speech at Toronto Pride. Watch our broadcast.
  Pride Toronto in hiding after spirited denunciation from queer leaders
- June 7, 2010

Armed with an oversized cardboard shame award, a group of queers trying to give back their trophies ran into a problem on June 7: the offices of Pride Toronto (PT) were locked.

As one, two and eventually three police cruisers showed up, it became increasingly clear than no one from PT was going to accept the giant shame certificate nor the statuettes from former grand marshals, honoured dykes and other honorees.   International grand marshals withdraw from Toronto Pride over censorship flap
- June 7, 2010

Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini (pictured), who were appointed international grand marshals for Pride Toronto earlier this year, resigned the honours earlier this morning. 

Epstein, Gilbert and Khaki to return honours over Pride censorship
- June 6, 2010

Rachel Epstein, Sky Gilbert and El-Farouk Khaki are just three of the more than 20 past honoured dykes, grand marshals and award recipients who will return their honours to Pride Toronto tomorrow morning in protest of the organization's choice to censor the term "Israeli Aparthied" from this year's Pride parade.

Martin Gladstone on why Pride should act as censor
- June 5, 2010

I had the honour last week of sitting down and talking with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and Sir Salman Rushdie, both very strong, eloquent advocates for free speech. They shared how words and language can also be used to spread hate and intolerance, hence the horrors of the holocaust, or the horror of living under a fatwa. It was opportune as I reflected on the debate in our gay community regarding censorship. Cole refuses Pride Toronto over censorship flap
- June 5, 2010

Toronto mayoral candidate and gay community bon vivant Keith Cole is the latest in a growing number of artists and activists to withdraw from Pride Toronto’s Pride celebrations because of the organization’s choice to censor the term “Israeli apartheid” from this year’s Pride parade.

Massive queer braintrust to renounce Pride Toronto honours
- June 4, 2010

Queer leaders have been distancing themselves from Pride Toronto since it announced it would ban the term "Israeli Apartheid" from this year's parade. But the latest latest blow to Pride Toronto appears to be of a different scale: 18 former grand marshals, honored dykes and awards recipients will renounce their honors and give back their awards to Pride Toronto, according to a press release from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA.)
by MainStreet 2010-06-11 09:12AM | 1 recs
maybe people don't wanna see a gay rights festival

become a trojan horse who care more about the far-left anti-Israel cause being peddled than actual gay rights. Anyone who really supports gay rights would support Israel because being gay there doesn't involve sentencing to jail, unlike the Muslim countries.

by Lakrosse 2010-06-10 05:29PM | 1 recs
RE: maybe people don't wanna see a gay rights festival

Maybe these are a group of people who appreciate civil and human rights in degree more than the rest of us. It does not seem to be a question of gay rights within Israel, but is rather about the injustices and inhumanity that Israel uses in its treatment of the Palestinians.

by MainStreet 2010-06-10 05:42PM | 0 recs
maybe people don't wanna see a gay rights festival

become a trojan horse who care more about the far-left anti-Israel cause being peddled than actual gay rights. Anyone who really supports gay rights would support Israel because being gay there doesn't involve sentencing to jail, unlike the Muslim countries.

by Lakrosse 2010-06-10 05:29PM | 1 recs
RE: maybe people don't wanna see a gay rights festival

You posted this twice. No need to emphasize the problem of gay rights in Muslim countries. They have a long way to go. But this group just happens to be focused on the IP situation. I'm certain that there are other orgs looking at gay rights around the world. Africa is another area of concern.

by MainStreet 2010-06-10 05:51PM | 0 recs
RE: maybe people don't wanna see a gay rights festival

You posted this twice. No need to emphasize the problem of gay rights in Muslim countries. They have a long way to go. But this group just happens to be focused on the IP situation. I'm certain that there are other orgs looking at gay rights around the world. Africa is another area of concern.

by MainStreet 2010-06-10 05:51PM | 0 recs
AN interesting development:
Twenty-three Pride Toronto honourees return awards over censorship

As 23 recipients of various awards and honours from Pride Toronto over the years, we have gathered today in protest against their decision to effectively ban the queer human rights group ‘Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’ from marching in the parade.

We are returning our various awards and honours in protest of this ban and of censorship. We will accept them back when Pride Toronto rescinds the ban and returns Pride to the free speech traditions upon which it was founded.

Signed by.....

by MainStreet 2010-06-10 05:36PM | 0 recs
Why hasn't Obama

scheduled Congressional hearings to get to the bottom of this?

by QTG 2010-06-11 08:27AM | 1 recs
LGBT leaders in open rebellion against Pride Toronto for censoring 2 words: “Israeli Apartheid”

Latest from Jewish Voice of Peace:

Gay pride parades (now evolved into LGBTQ and straight ally parades) were originally created to give gays and lesbians a way to defy shame, embrace free speech, and fight an unjust status quo. And now in Toronto? No longer.

On June 7, over 20 high-level past and present awardees and grand marshals left their statuettes at the door of Pride Toronto following the resignation of the parade’s international grand marshals. They were protesting what will surely be remembered as one of the most shameful actions ever taken by a pride group: succumbing to pressure to bar the group Queers United Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) by banning the use of the phrase “Israeli Apartheid.”

Talk about backfiring. Performers and speakers continue to jump ship and the condemnations are coming fast and furious. One can only hope that if for no other reason than the principle of it, people wearing “Israeli Apartheid” stickers will show up at pride parades all over the world, including and especially in Toronto.


by MainStreet 2010-06-12 08:08AM | 0 recs
Latest from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

Call for solidarity with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

June 12, 2010

The members of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) are heartened and deeply grateful for the tremendous solidarity and support shown by the LGBT community and allies since the words “Israeli Apartheid” were censored by Pride Toronto, excluding our group and our message as a result of pressure from external lobby groups.

Many people have asked us what we are calling on supporters to do. To perfomers and artists at Pride, we repeat our earlier call: please get in touch with us at to let us know what you are prepared to do, so that we can make a call for coordinated action that will have the greatest impact. We are not at this time calling for a general boycott of Pride, though we are very thankful to all artists and speakers who have withdrawn from the festival on principle.


by MainStreet 2010-06-16 12:22PM | 0 recs


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