Dr. Alan Li rejects appointment as Pride Toronto Grand Marshal

May 28, 2010

Today, Pride Toronto’s choice for grand marshal of the 2010 Pride Parade has refused his appointment, citing the organization’s censorship of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA).

“I have been actively involved in many social justice movements locally and internationally for more than thirty years,” says Dr. Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto, Asian Community AIDS Services, the multicultural Coalition Against Homophobia, and the first openly gay president of the Chinese Canadian National Council. “I thus remember very clearly our community’s battles against censorship that attempted to invalidate our concerns, minimize our struggles and silence our voices.”

On May 25, Pride Toronto announced that it would censor the term “Israeli apartheid” from all Pride events this year, including the parade, dyke march and trans march. This followed extensive pressure from Israel lobbyists, sponsors of the festival, and City Hall, reacting to the participation of QuAIA in the parade for the past two years.

“Pride’s recent decision to ban the term “Israeli Apartheid” and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from participating in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices,” says Dr. Li. “Pride’s choice to take 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.”

Dr. Li’s refusal of the grand marshal appointment comes a day after an open letter to Pride Toronto was published from the original founders of Lesbian and Gay Pride Day in 1981, denouncing Pride Toronto’s censorship.

“Solidarity with all struggles against oppression has been a crucial part of the history of Pride,” reads the letter.

For the full text of Dr. Alan Li’s letter to Pride Toronto, click here. (PDF)