A group of Toronto city councillors will file a motion on 28 May to cut the grant to Toronto Pride unless the organisers agree to ban the participation of a pro-Palestinian LGBT group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. They also want to ban the use of the term Israeli apartheid.
The funding cut would jeopardise the future of Toronto Pride, just one year before it is due to host WorldPride 2014.
“The demand that a pro-Palestinian slogan and organisation are banned from the Toronto Pride parade is censorship. Its a direct attack on free speech and the right to protest. The threat to cut funding is tantamount to blackmail. Pride parades should be open to all individuals and organisations that support LGBT human rights. There should be no political vetting, unless the participants are homophobic, incite violence or oppose human rights, said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Read a full report about the defunding and censorship bid in the Canadian LGBT news paper Xtra!
“Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is not supporting violence against Jews or Israelis. They are merely protesting against the Israeli occupation and the abusive mistreatment and humiliation of the Palestinian people. This occupation and mistreatment hurts both straight and LGBT Palestinians, added Mr Tatchell.
“I was proud to march with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the 2011 New York LGBT Pride parade. They support a just cause and have valid point to make. In the occupied territories, Israel has an apartheid-style system of separate settlements and roads for Jews and non-Jews.
Human rights are about more than gay rights. I am not a gayist. I never judge any nation solely by its stance on LGBT issues. It is important to consider all aspects of human tights, not just gay ones.
Israel may be gay-friendly but not if you are a gay Palestinian.
“Very commendably, Israel has good equality laws for gay people; although it does not allow same-sex marriage and it refuses asylum to Palestinians fleeing homophobic and transphobic persecution.
In contrast, the Palestinian authorities and neighbouring Arab dictatorships are guilty of severe homophobic persecution and widespread human rights abuses.
Israel is an LGBT-friendly democracy but it is based on the subjugation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. No amount of progressive LGBT policies can justify Israels occupation of seized Palestinian territories, the building of illegal new settlements and the on-going seizure of Palestinian land and houses.
Some of the victims of these Israeli expropriations are gay Palestinians. Gay equality based on the dispossession of the Palestinian people is not liberation; it’s oppression,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell was a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK) in 1982, and has repeatedly condemned human rights abuses by Israel and the Palestinians, particularly the Hamas regime in Gaza.