A simmering conflict between the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, and a hardcore anti-Israeli group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, has ended with the gay group pulling the plug on its participation at the annual Toronto Gay Pride Parade, slated for June.
According to an April QuAIA statement, “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.”
Ford announced in March that his administration plans to slash more than $100,000 in city funds for Toronto Gay Pride Week events because of the involvement of QuAIA.
“Taxpayers dollars should not go toward funding hate speech,” Ford said last month.
In response to QuAIA’s statement, the head of Canada’s Jewish Congress, Bernie M. Farber said, “This is a positive step and reaffirms what Canadian Jewish Congress has been saying all along. There is absolutely no place in the Pride Parade for hateful and discriminatory messages. The Pride Parade should be about openness and inclusivity – and not about divisive, inflammatory messaging – which serves only to create a hostile and toxic environment.”
The Canadian daily National Post reported that Toronto provides $128,000 in public monies for Pride, and roughly $250,000 for municipal services, like police and garbage removal.
According to the National Post
, Ford was not convinced that QuAIA will
not appear at this year’s parade. “...if they don’t march in the parade,
they get their money. If they do march, they won’t get their money.
That’s what council agreed to last year,” he said.
QuAIA issued a statement on its website, saying its non-participation is
a “challenge for Mayor Rob Ford” to test if he will continue funding
for the Gay Parade events.
A report from the city of Toronto published in April did not deem the
terminology “Israeli Apartheid” a violation Ontario’s criminal code or
the human rights statute.
However, Toronto City Councilman Giorgio Mammoliti said, “I understand
we’ve got a win on our hands. I see this as a victory for the Jewish
community. I see this as a victory for the city and for Pride as well.”