Vindicated by a City of Toronto report, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid will hold its Pride Week activities outside of the parade, in a challenge to Mayor Rob Ford.
TORONTO — Following this week’s report from City of Toronto staff concluding that the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is announcing new plans for Pride 2011 that will pose a challenge for Mayor Rob Ford.
“Last year’s struggle was around censorship and our right to march in our community’s Pride parade,” says QuAIA spokesperson Tim McCaskell. “With the City report settling that debate, now is the time for us to move beyond the parade to build our community’s response to Israeli apartheid.”
Instead of marching as a contingent in the parade this year, QuAIA will focus its Pride Week activities on hosting a community event to raise awareness of Israeli apartheid, and how LGBTQ communities can pressure the Israeli government to comply with international law through the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions. QuAIA will also continue to contest Israel’s “pinkwashing” campaign, which attempts to use LGBTQ human rights to obscure Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
QuAIA’s new plans will pose a challenge for Mayor Rob Ford, who announced that he would cut more than $100,000 in city tourism funding for Pride Toronto if QuAIA continued to march.
“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,” says Elle Flanders of QuAIA. “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.”
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Rob Ford’s record on Pride funding and other LGBTQ issues:
2005: Then-councillor Rob Ford said during a council debate, “I don’t understand a transgender… is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy?”
2006: Ford argued against city funding for AIDS prevention programs, saying, “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line.” He also voted against such programs in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
2006: Ford was the lone vote against putting up three welcome banners over roadways for the 2006 International AIDS Conference being held in Toronto that year. The city did not require any extra funding to install those banners.
2010: Ford endorsed council candidate and fundamentalist pastor Wendell Brereton, who said, “My kind of Toronto doesn’t parade immorality and call it pride.” In endorsing Brereton, Ford said, “We’re together. We have the same thoughts.”
2010: During his mayoral campaign, Ford said, “I support traditional marriage. I always have.”
While trying to distance himself from homophobic attack ads, Ford called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice.”
2011: In February, Ford was the only member of council to vote against accepting $100,000 from the province to establish screening programs for syphilis and HIV.