Canada: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid demand Pride Toronto reverse ban


On May 21st, 2010, Pride Toronto Inc. decided to prohibit signs that bear the words “Israeli apartheid” from all 2010 Pride events, effectively banning the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from participating in the Pride Day parade. 

The Pride parade has, for thirty years, been a site of resistance to a range of oppressive practices (based on sexism, homophobia, racism, and class oppression, amongst other axes); celebration of LGBTQ lives, and solidarity with oppressed peoples in other parts of the world. This tradition of Pride has been severely jeopardised by this decision, which sits in a context of increasing political suppression (in Toronto and elsewhere) of critical, dissenting voices of the continued brutality of the Israeli state against Palestinians.

We urge you to sign this petition.

Dear Pride Toronto,
As queers and queer allies from a wide range of backgrounds, faiths and communities, we are deeply disheartened and offended by your censorship of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA). Pride owes its existence to the courageous resistance of LGBTQ and 2-Spirited people who fought and struggled to decriminalize homosexuality and queerness in all its wonderful glory so that diverse queer communities could take to the streets and make public our love, our desire and our politics. 

Your ability to sell out the principles of Pride and its history as a festival of resistance and rage against social, political and legal injustice is depressing and shameful. We are saddened that under the Executive Directorship of Ms. Sandilands, the Pride Toronto committee has neither the courage nor integrity that the ANC had in apartheid South Africa nor the convictions and courage of its millions of international supporters. 

Have you forgotten that here you too hold your march and corporate love-in on occupied territory that is available to you only because of the history of Canadian-state sanctioned genocide? Perhaps you should think about making connections between progressive forces because LGBTQ rights in Canada and elsewhere may have a short-lived victory in light of government policies increasingly influenced by politically and morally conservative, and at times fundamentalist ideologies.

Criticising Israeli Apartheid is not a hate crime but rather an act of love for social justice, and the rights of those who have suffered for more than 60 years as civilians and dispossessed, namely the Palestinians. Today it seems the love that dare not speak its name, is the one expressed by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, that is love for those who suffer in the name of a Zionist and U.S-led alliance, in which Canada hangs on to the coat -tails of U.S-foreign policy.

If you wish the Festival to be timely and relevant, you must move with the times and with social movements, not corporate agendas and the abandonment of queer Israelis and Palestinians who deserve a future that is demilitarized and a negotiated solution to the problems of homeland and dispossession they currently face.
We, the undersigned, urge you to stand up for the inclusion of progressive voices critical, not of Jewish people,  but a Zionist military state subsidised and hugely supported by the United States and Canadian governments. 

We urge you to rescind the ban on the words “Israeli apartheid” in any and all Pride events.