Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

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30 years of a censorship-free Pride in Toronto has come to an end

May 23, 2010

For the first time in its 30-year history, Pride Toronto has banned an LGBT community group from the parade. The board of directors voted on Friday to ban the words ‘Israeli Apartheid’ from any Pride events, including the Pride parade, dyke march, and trans march – directly targeting the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

This follows a year of intense pressure from Toronto City Hall (one of Pride’s main funders) and Israel lobbyists, who claim that criticisms of the Israeli government amount to hate and discrimination. By caving to their demands, Pride Toronto has not only silenced the voices of queer Palestinians and human rights activists —they have set a dangerous precedent for free expression in our community.

Send a message to Pride Toronto that ALL communities deserve to be heard in our Pride.

Call their offices to tell them no censorship at Toronto Pride:

Executive Director Tracey Sandilands: 416 927 7433 ext 222 tracey@pridetoronto.com
Director of Sponsorship & Grants Ryan Lester: 416 927 7433 ext 230 ryan@pridetoronto.com

Board members who voted to censor Queers Against Israeli Apartheid:
Margaret Ngai: margaret-ngai@pridetoronto.com
Genevieve D’Iorio: genevieve-diorio@pridetoronto.com
Mark Singh: mark-singh@pridetoronto.com
Daniel Knox: daniel-knox@pridetoronto.com

Sample Email

Dear Pride Toronto,

I am shocked by your reckless decision to censor free speech at Pride. This year is meant to celebrate 30 years of resistance and instead you have decided to make a mockery of our hard-won rights by banning an LGBT human rights group.

The ‘privilege’ to pick and choose who gets into the club is what denied us our rights for much too long.

My Pride is political! I know how I got here and I will not allow you to silence anyone. We are loud, proud and inclusive! That is what  makes our community strong and vibrant.

Sincerely,

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Will City Council follow Harper’s lead by cutting Pride funding?

May 10, 2010

MOTION TO CUT CITY FUNDING FOR PRIDE TORONTO TO BE DEBATED THIS WEEK

A motion submitted by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7 – York West) will be debated at this weekʼs city council meeting, which will threaten city funding for Pride Toronto, North Americaʼs largest festival for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community.

Mammolitiʼs anti-gay voting record goes back to 1994 when, as an MPP, he spoke out against his own partyʼs same-sex spousal rights legislation in the Ontario Legislature. He put forward this weekʼs motion in response to the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in last yearʼs Pride parade.

The motion comes just days after the Harper Conservative government announced that it would no longer provide funds to the annual Pride Toronto festival through its tourism grants program.

“Mammoliti has never been a friend of the LGBT community, and this motion is just a desperate ploy for attention from a fringe mayoral candidate,” says Tim McCaskell, member of QuAIA.

The LGBT community will be watching to see whether city councillors follow Harperʼs lead on Pride funding or reject Mammolitiʼs anti-gay motion.

Councillor Mammoliti’s Motion

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City’s Threat to Pride Toronto Condemned Internationally

April 26, 2010

Letters of support for the inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in Toronto’s gay pride parade have poured in from prominent groups and activists locally and abroad, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Queer Ontario, and LGBT organizations in Palestine and Israel.

City of Toronto staff were quoted in the Toronto Star on April 18 suggesting that future city funding for Pride Toronto may be jeopardized if the activist group is allowed to march in this year’s parade.

“We are appalled by attempts made at the City of Toronto to use censorship measures against the pride parade’s participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid,” reads an April 25 letter of support from Israeli Queers for Palestine. “We wish to pledge our support to QuAIA in this time of unjust political persecution for their courageous standing for Palestinian rights and against any form of oppression.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote a letter to mayor David Miller on April 20 objecting to the threat to Pride funding. “In activities such as parades, art exhibitions and theatre performances, points of view on controversial subjects may be expressed that may make individuals from specific communities uncomfortable. Freedom of expression is central to such activities, however, and these considerations alone should not preclude public funding.”

“We believe that as queers, one of the most disadvantaged and oppressed minorities in human societies, we should protest against all forms of oppression and struggle together,” says a joint letter from Palestinian queer organizations al-Qaws and Aswat. “As Palestinian queers, our struggle relates to social injustices caused by the discrimination that is deeply rooted in Israel’s policies and practices against the Palestinian people, straight and gay alike.”

On April 24, Queer Ontario issued a statement denouncing the threat from city staff. “We are particularly concerned about how the word ‘apartheid’ is being interpreted as ‘hate’ and the implications of such on free speech. We are disturbed that such a warning was issued based upon mere reports from ‘some’ city councilors and unspecified members of ‘the public’, without proper research being conducted first.”

Co-founder of the U.S.-based Lesbian Avengers Sarah Schulman wrote to Pride Toronto on April 20 to express her gratitude that the censorship attempts have so far proven unsuccessful. She wrote: “I would be happy to do whatever I can to show support for the continuation of Pride as a day that we all share together.”

“We salute QuAIA for their courageous and moral stance against Israeli apartheid and Israel’s blatant disregard of international law,” said an April 23 statement issued by the group Palestinian Queers for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions. “We support QuAIA for their outstanding solidarity actions, including the refusal to be silenced by the decision of the City of Toronto.”

STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT:

Israeli Queers for Palestine
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
al-Qaws and Aswat
Queer Ontario
Sarah Schulman
Palestinian Queers for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions
Seriously Free Speech Committee (Vancouver)
Independent Jewish Voices
United Jewish People’s Order

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Queering Apartheid 101

June 16, 2009

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the issues before the Pride parade and Dyke March, or just learn some snappy answers to spicy questions, have we got a tutorial for you!

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid will be holding a ‘Queering Apartheid 101’ workshop for any members who are interested.  Facilitators will include members from the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Faculty 4 Palestine, and Aswat: Palestinian Gay Women.

When:
Saturday, June 20th, 3 to 5 p.m.  (Your hangover from Huevos should have worn off by then.)

Where:
Ryerson Library building
350 Victoria Street
3rd floor, room POD358
[ map ]

You can RSVP on Facebook here.  If you have any questions, please e-mail us: quaia.toronto [at] gmail [dot] com

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Join us at Toronto Pride!

June 15, 2009

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

That’s the theme of this year’s Pride parade, and we think it’s fitting for our group. Our community hasn’t stopped fighting apartheid since 1986, when the Simon Nkoli Anti-Apartheid Committee was founded in Toronto by gay activists against South African apartheid.

Members of that Committee will be joining us in this year’s parade, under the same banner they marched with in pride parades of the 1980s!

As you may know, after our very successful May 23 forum at Buddies, “Coming Out Against Apartheid,” QuAIA has come under attack from B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the National Post, and the Toronto Sun, with attempts to ban us from Pride. El-Farouk Khaki, Pride Grand Marshal, has been singled out for attack as a gay Muslim.  Straight pro-Israel lobbyists like Bernie Farber have been lecturing the queer community on what Pride is supposed to be about.

QuAIA has not backed down, and neither has Pride. The response from the queer community and the queer press has been overwhelmingly supportive.

Your presence and support are needed to KEEP PRIDE POLITICAL!

This year we are going to have the biggest anti-apartheid contingent EVER in the Pride parade, and we want you to march with us!  Also joining us will be members of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Women in Solidarity with Palestine, and Nice Jewish Boys Against Israeli Apartheid.

So come out against apartheid on June 28th at 1:00 p.m.  Meet us at the corner of Bloor and Church Streets and look for our banners at parade entry M362.  We’re planning to have t-shirts and bandanas for our marchers.

Women and trans folks are also invited to join QuAIA and Women in Solidarity with Palestine at the Dyke March on Saturday, June 27th. Meet us at 1:30 p.m. at Church and Hayden; look for our banner.

You can RSVP on Facebook for our contingents in the Pride parade and the Dyke March.