Alex Blaze

Toronto Mayor Threatens Pride Again because of Pro-Palestine Message

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 09, 2011 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: israel, palestine, pride, rob ford, toronto

The same controversy that happened last year in Toronto is set to happen again:

toronto.jpg[Toronto mayor Rob] Ford, who was elected on a right-wing, waste-slashing agenda last November, told the Canadian Jewish News last week that he will cut funding to the annual Pride Toronto event if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is allowed to participate in this summer's parade.

"Taxpayers dollars should not go toward funding hate speech," Ford told the weekly, repeating a pledge he made while campaigning for the mayor's post.

Pride Toronto received $123,807 from the city last year.

Pride gets that kind of money to help them organize because the festival is a cash cow for the city - the city estimates pride brought $6 million into the local economy.

Which raises the perennial question about pride: is it a political event or is it a money-making party? Obviously I wouldn't presume to answer for the people of Toronto, but if they were getting a grant for their political protest then it couldn't have been that great of a protest in the first place.

If it's a political protest, then they don't need a grant to put it on. If it's just supposed to be a big party, then sponsors of that party are going to try to control the event with money.

But if it's supposed to be one of those half-way, in-between events, where political energy is co-opted for the purposes of making money (or lots of people with different goals are getting together), then the city is using grant money to discriminate against a certain political viewpoint (that Israel's actions in Palestinian land are wrong - and, no, it's not "hate speech" to criticize a government's actions).

Perhaps the problem is a lack of clarity from the start about what people want out of pride.

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It seems like a political event, but its scope is being co-opted by said controversial group at the expense of everyone else. Let QAIA throw their own separate protest without riding on the coattails of the PRIDE event. Ditto for any organization unrelated to the local push for gay visibility in Toronto.

If Toronto PRIDE decides they value tangential interests more, then they only have themselves to blame for the event falling out and screwing over the local gay kids who benefit greatly from said events.

Ditto for any organization unrelated to the local push for gay visibility in Toronto

If it's like pride in most north american cities, that rule means that 95% of the floats/groups are gone. eg, what does absolut vodka have to do with the "local push for gay visibility in toronto"? or any national org's presence, local straight politicians, businesses trying to get attention, HIV/AIDS orgs, feminist groups, political parties, etc., etc.

The decision about the march's message(s) should be up to the pride committee, not the city, if it is about political messaging.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 10, 2011 9:42 AM

After months of awe inspiring heroism by muslim/Arab GLBT fighters in the regellions against US dominated and theocratic states the idea that they should be excluded by right wing piglets like Mayor Ford or zionists is disgusting.

We should be celebrating their victories and offering them all the support we can.

Yes, those liquor and corporate-paid for floats should be out as well. AIDS/safe space/national org groups involve the health and protection of the local community. QAIA on the other hand is a small group with no actual influence whatsoever on international policy-making and are obvious in using the parade as their spotlight for spreading their message unrelated to the event's celebration.

It's as if some group of women celebration International Women's Day joined the celebration with a "Stop animal cruelty." campaign. The merit of their movement is unrelated to the question of whether they're diluting the celebration.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 10, 2011 12:28 AM

The smart, and principled, thing to do would be to reject any grants from anyone that come with strings attached and to take a stand with Palestinians struggles against zionist ethnic cleansing.

Our LGBT brothers and sisters who are helping lead the fights from Morocco to Pakistan can use our support as a weapon against islamist bigotry and violence.

Theres no need to kowtow to rightwingers who want to exclude parts of our community from participation.

What happened last year - the resolution? I've forgotten.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 10, 2011 9:05 AM

There were the same threats from rightwingers but these pics seem to indicate that the
Palestinian groups did march as did dozens of other GLBT groups.

Since when has criticism of Israeli policy in Palestine been classified as 'hate speech'? I don't regard homophobic speech as 'hate speech' unless it incites violence, or the removal of my civil and human rights. Likewise criticism of Israel is not hate speech unless it incites violence or the removal of rights. What is this pro-Palestinian group advocating?

Last year the group that runs Toronto Pride tried to force out QAIA groups (as well as the trans rights march and the lesbian marches), so they could focus more on the high profile and easy to swallow young urban upper middle class male demographic. (To the point of trying to get trans people arrested if they got too close to the event). Toronto Pride is a terrible and dismal failure of the people and responsible for a massive fracture in the Toronto GBLTQ* community.