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Canada: ‘Israeli apartheid’ censorship row puts Toronto Pride funding in jeopardy

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  1. I wonder if “Queers for a united Ireland” or “Queers for South Ossetian independence” or “Queers against Chinese occupation of Tibet” would provoke the same hand-wringing.

    If there were anti-semitic banners I could understand it. But being against “Israeli Apartheid” whatever you may think of it is not anti-semitism. It’s just free expression, the same as being able to have a pride event based on refusing to be ashamed of your sexuality is free expression.

    Tatchell’s as good as he usually is on free speech.

    1. There is no “Israeli Apartheid” – just good propaganda for a state (“Palestine”) that doesn’t exist and has never existed.

      1. “I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names,
        a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could
        describe events in South Africa under Apartheid.”
        Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after a visit to Israel.

    2. Yes free speech should also allow anti apartheid in palestine banners.

      1. How can there be Apartheid in a state that is not allowed to exist?

    3. PRIDE to me is a time when members of our community can gather en masse to celebrate who we are and what we are. To say to the rest of society that we are not ashamed regardless of what you do to us or say about us. It is NOT a time to protest any or every cause in society or around the world. There are many other occasions and forums in which this can be done. The only political banners that should be displayed are those highlighting causes pertinent to our community, either in celebration of rights won or to illustrate the inequalites that still exist.

    4. Just ask them a single question.

      “You are being deported. We can send you to Hamas run Palestine or democratic Israel, where do you want to go?”

      If they know any facts about the region at all, I cannot imagine one person choosing to live under Hamas. Let alone anyone gay.

  2. So be it.

    It’s not going to do gay pride any favours letting it turn into a cynical marketing machine where we keep our mouths shut in exchange for money from Israeli war criminals.

    Shame on the local politicians responsible for this. No gay person in Toronto should ever vote for them again.

    1. I totally support the politicians and I will be voting for them.

    2. That’s right! No support! Who’s going to Toronto Pride, when there’s such a fun pride parade right through the Downtown Ramallah!

  3. This is the misuse power of by religious nuts in government.

  4. This is not a free speech issue…The issue is whether QuAIA in its propaganda violates the Toronto Charter of Rights and therefore by their inclusion would deny access to funds from the city. This is the same Charter that since 1979 has protect lesbian and gay rights to housing and employment in the city.
    QuAIA is an insignificant organization that is trying to use the forum of Pride Toronto to gain greater exposure to a message that many find hateful. This hateful message is an affront to everything that has been gained through the pride celebration in Toronto. A celebration that at its very core is one of support for diversity and inclusion. Further, QuAIA’s message is directly repugnant to a normally LGBT supportive Jewish community in this city. Moreover it offends the one country in the Middle East that has done more to support LGBT rights than any other in the region.
    After a couple of years of this issue Pride Toronto should have the guts to say no to QuAIA.

    1. You seem to believe that Israel is synonymous with Judaism and that all Jews support the Israeli government’s actions.
      I think, quite frankly, that it’s about time that people “should have the guts to say no” to people who try to shut down talk about human rights abuses in Israel, with direct or indirect, accusations of antisemitism. Saying that Israel are nice to LGBTs doesn’t really have anything to do with how they treat Palestinian people.

      1. Or how palestinians treat LGBT.

    2. What’s hateful about being against “Israeli apartheid”? You can disagree with it sure, but I don’t see where the “hate” is being promoted. Without bothering to find out, I’m guessing the “support for diversity and inclusion” which you laud is the thing they are concerned about being lacking in Israel towards the Arab population (unless their message is different – it’s usually the same arguments we hear with this issue).

      It’s also facile to say that their message is repugnant to the Toronto jewish community. You are equating jews with Israel. Many jews – either those of a religious disposition or those like me of jewish family extraction – are able to separate criticism of the actions of Israel from criticism of jews as people.

      I’ll ask again – would “Queers against Chinese occupation of Tibet” be repugnant to Toronto’s Chinese community? Would it be hateful? Or are we grown up enough to be able to tell the difference between hate and disagreement?

    3. You are wasting your time, in Britain there is a brainwashing bandwagon to blame Israel .Quaia would be better putting their energy to something positive and more constructive by highlighting the apartheid in Palestine and other muslim countries.

  5. stephen kay 16 May 2013, 8:36pm

    Gay people have no place trashing the only gay friendly country in the middle east.

    1. So what your essentially saying that as long as they are friendly to Israeli LGBTs then we ignore all their many other human rights abuses?

      1. No , they have a right to free speech as do those against the apartheid in the rest of the middle east, but having a group march against the arab world apartheid may cause massive security problems

        1. But I guess Israel is an easier target(because they would be too scared to address apartheid in Palestine and muslim world for fear of a fatwa) for derision by some trendy gays on a safe, clichéd crusade, who would live in apartheid in the rest of the middle east. The irony is tragic.

        2. So because the Israelis don’t threaten us with violence death and terrorism it is safe to criticise them.

          But when muslims threaten us with violence we should back down.

          That’s a great way to run the world. Criticise those who do us the most good while ignoring the massive wrongs in their neighbouring countries whose express desire is to wipe Israel off the map, because we are scared.

          Violence wins.

          1. You’ve missed the point, I was referring to the cavalier ease at which a gay group would be critical of Israel but too terrified to criticise apartheid in the rest of the middle east or maybe they are just too ignorant of it.

      2. Kafiristani 17 May 2013, 12:51am

        Yes this is exactly what we say , even more so when these other societies in the middle east murder and torture there own homosexual people. Do I give any care to these evil mohamidan states and societies = no I do not , long live Isreal , Mohamidan fashism is a sickness Zionism is a cure .

  6. LGBT protesting for a group of palestinian homophobes – the irony of it.

    1. Yeah, it’s almost as if some LGBT people are able to see the value in other people’s lives and rights beyond whether or not they agree with how we live our lives.

      1. The way people treat LGBT people is a marker of so many other things. You could draw a graph of LBGT rights in different countries and basic human rights democracy and all the other things we value in the west would follow the same graph.

        How do you think women are treated in Palestine?

        Hamas fire rockets off to Israel daily, randomly aiming at women and children. Hamas then build their hiding places under schools and hospitals.

        These are the people you want to defend? Men who throw stones and then hide under their second class citizen women’s skirts.

        Israel is not perfect, but go there and look at your neighbours. Every one of whom publicly states their desire that you should be exterminated. The arabs will not rest until every Israeli is dead and they happily will tell you that. They danced in the streets on 9/11. Have you the slightest clue what you are talking about?

        1. This is a binary view of the world. Because I think people should be allowed to criticse Israel’s human rights record at a gay pride event that means I “want to defend” rocket attacks on Israel? Why would it mean that?

          I want to defend the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace. That means tolerating criticism of Israel and Palestine. Just because many muslims are against LGBT rights doesn’t mean I think they should have their own rights jettisoned.

          Your final paragraph is a perfect example of what-aboutery. Saying “Yeah, but such and such is also bad/worse” isn’t a defence of the first thing. Let’s take your point though. “The arabs [seriously, "The arabs"?, one homogenous mass of people?] will not rest until every Israeli is dead”. What about the more than half of Palestinians who for many years have supported a two-state solution? What about the more than 40% of Palestinians who believe in recognising Israel as a jewish state? To hell with defending them too?

    2. So it’s ok to treat Palestinian people as subhuman because, and I presume this is your line of thinking, please correct me if I’m wrong, they’re Muslims ergo homophobic?

  7. I think people mix up criticism with Israel which is free speech with slandering israel which is hate speech. Israel is not an apartheid state by any stretch of the imagination and such slogans have no place at a pride event which is supposed to be inclusive and where everyone should feel comfortable. How would people feel if there were banners saying Islam = terrorism or such like. They would quite rightly want them banned. Let’s be consistent

    1. If there were banners saying judaism = terrorism there would be exactly the same feeling as if it said islam = terrorism. The apartheid comparison is by no means accepted by all or most people but it is a fairly frequent and mainstream analogy and not one held simply by foaming anti-semites.

      Saying that slandering Israel is hate speech is truly ridiculous. If I call Britain a toadying, snobbish, monarchist, constitutionless democratic cesspit, then you might disagree – but describing a political system in terms you don’t agree with is not hate speech by any definition.

    2. friday jones 16 May 2013, 11:31pm

      It’s easy to tell if Israel is an apartheid state or not: Does Israel restrict citizenship so that people born there are not citizens if they are Palestinians, but welcomes foreign immigrants as long as they have a common ancestry with the dominant population? Check. Does Israel restrict voting rights for a minority population of native-born residents so that most of them cannot vote in elections? Check. Are there separate and less-well-funded police and public services systems for Palestinians in Israel? Check. Are there fences and border checks WITHIN the national boundaries that separate ethnic enclaves? Check.

      Looks like Apartheid to me.

      1. Actually, Arabs born within the internationally recognized borders of Israel are Israeli citizens. The Arabs living in the annexed Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights also have the choice of becoming Israeli citizens. The West Bank – and the majority of the World agrees with that – is not part of Israel but is occupied territory. As such Israel is not required to grant its residents citizenship.

        As for Arabs voting, those residing in Israel proper vote with everyone else. Those living in the territories actually are able to vote for the people who claim to represent them like PLO, Hamas, etc. But for some reason, Abu Mazen has overstayed his elected term of 4 years and is not in a rush to have new elections.

        Within the internationally recognized boundaries of Israel there are no border checks that separate ethnic enclaves.

    3. Genevieve – you say that “Israel is not an apartheid state by any stretch of the imagination” – but Archbishop Desmond Tutu described it as apartheid after he visited Israel. I’ll take his experience over yours. These are his exact words.
      “I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa under Apartheid.”

  8. Look everyone, being denied funding is NOT censorship. period. If you want to put inflammatory statements in the event, fine, but don’t expect to have tax payers fund your event.

    1. I think if you’re going to hold a peaceful, popular and non-extremist event to ransom after supporting it previously because of one group of people you don’t agree with then it effectively serves as a form of censorship. I’d be able to support the withholding of funds if the messages concerned were genuinely hateful or were aimed at insulting, defaming or denigrating certain groups of people. But that’s not true in this case. I guess what I’m saying is that your definition of inflammatory is completely different from mine.

      Put another way, if a pride event in an American city had its funding threatened because local politicians didn’t like a banner which said “Queers against the apartheid of the war on drugs and the prison-industrial complex” I’d feel the same. You might feel the analogy is clumsy or outright untrue, but it’s still one which is advocating supporting the rights of others, not restricting them. The opposite of hate.

      1. And in America it would also be completely fine to withhold the funding, because the Pride is not a mandated part of the budget. If it gets any help from the city, it is as part of discretionary funding. There’s a big difference between mandated and discretionary spending.

        1. I don’t think it would be completely fine. Completely legal, for sure. But I think when you establish discretionary spending for an event over a number of years and then threaten to withhold it in order to force someone to stop saying something you disagree with, it’s disingenuous to say it doesn’t amount to censorship.

          It’s worth bearing in mind that most of us have a censorship threshold, I certainly do. Hate speech laws are a form of censorship, and in many conditions I’d go along with that being the case. But I don’t see making analogies to apartheid as inciteful, inflammatory or divisive whether I disagree with them or not. And if I were to jeopardise the funding of an established event because I didn’t want certain views promulgated, I think I’d be honest enough to acknowledge that it’s a form of censorship.

    2. //but don’t expect to have tax payers fund your event.//

      You do realize that this event brings millions of dollars to the local economy, right? Getting this funding is peanuts in comparison to what is brought it.

  9. as i read through these comments, it is disheartening to see both the swell of anti-israel feeling and the veiled anti-semitism. i am assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the majority of these comments are from brits. well, brits, you ain’t lily-white and millions upon millions in this world hate you for your imperialistic forays. maybe there should be a banner against the uk in that parade? the english expulsion of the jews in this country is nothing to be proud of. i believe there was, is and will always be an inherent anti-semitism here. to try to make political hay against israel in this toronto pride event is reprehensible. it always manages to be the fault of those jews, doesn’t it? if the world had gotten its wits together and prevented mass annihilations, maybe the necessity of an israel to exist would never have seen daylight.

    sloganeers, go to gaza, go to saudi arabia, etc., hold a pride flag high. then give me a call when or if you get back and we’ll talk.

    1. Well said , as a Brit please do no assume we are all anti semitic/anti Israeli by some of the idiotic comments on here. These commentators are completely detached from reality.

    2. What do you have to say to Jewish people who disagree with your position are they anti Semites too? Israel is not Judaism and it not even thinly veiled antisemitism to argue with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. To use the holocaust as some sort of Israeli criticism shield is quite frankly repulsive, disturbing and disrespectful.

      British imperialism is no excuse for Israel’s or any other nations behaviour.

      Quite honestly if you or anyone else hates me, due to something that happened before I was born because of people who bear no relation to me, (not even distantly) because of my passport, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Especially not since most of my relatives come from former British colonies, (I think your grasp of modern Britain is quite limited if you weren’t prepared for such citizens to exist). If I was an Israeli though, I’d quite loudly be shouting “Not in my name”. There are Israelis who do protest, but I suppose they’re the anti-Semitic Israelis.

      1. You do get homophobic homosexuals so the same principle could apply to anti semitic jews.

    3. I think care must always be taken when using the word “Brit” or “British”. Too many equate British with English. But I have to agree with the other Jake that most English are inherently anti-semitic. Nor do you have to go back centuries to see evidence of this. The betrayal of jews wrt the Balfour Declaration, the policies wrt to Jewish refugees entering Palestine prior to and after WWII, not to mention the whole debacle around partition. All within living memory.

    4. Can you give some examples of the veiled anti-semitism?

      As a Brit, if someone wants to have a banner at a pride event condemning British government policy in areas other than LGBT rights, I’m all for it. And as an ethnic jew with Jamaican relatives, I come from a family which is well aware of our country’s stained history.

      Can you explain what exactly you think people are saying “always manages to be the fault of those jews”? It seems to me like people are saying “Israeli apartheid” is the fault of Israelis, but I can’t see what that has to do with jews.

      And to finish with, another “what about other countries” remark. We shouldn’t compare poor human rights to worse human rights and say “well it could be worse”. We should aspire to good human rights and say “it could be better”. You don’t need to go to Saudi Arabia as a precondition to criticise anywhere else.

      1. are you really that naive?

        1. Look this is pretty frustrating. If I or anyone else is being accused of veiled anti-semitism then that’s very serious and I’m happy to be put right on anything anyone disagrees with, but you have to actually point out what you don’t agree with and why. Don’t just make remarks like “are you really that naive?” Naive about what? Tell me what you take exception to and why you take exception to it and we can debate it from there.

  10. Being a queer against Israeli Apartheid is exactly the same as being a Christian against gays because gays are child molesters.

    Both are slanderous lies.

  11. If someone feels it should be there, they should allow it. I am curious, however, if the word Islamofascism would be acceptable as well. I mean, ALL countries save one that have capital punishment for gay relationships are Islamic.

    1. Absolutely people should be able to protest against those states and sharia law etc. it doesn’t mean that no one should criticise Israel, as some of the people here seem to think.
      I’m not really sure the word “Islamofascism” is even comparable to this situation. Plus it would surely cover a whole spectrum of problems, subjugation of women, lack of religious freedoms and free speech etc. and stigmatise and alienate a lot of people, it would also be hate speech against all Muslims all over the world, rather than a protest against the Islamic states in question.
      The people who feel upset about the current protest seem to be those who can’t see the difference between the state of Israel and the global population of Jews. If someone had a organisation against “Jewofascism”, said organisation should be banned and outlawed from society because that is antisemitism. I would hope the organisers would serve a considerable amount of time behind bars too

      1. Uhm, well there is a difference. Israel is the only country in which Jewish religious considerations can have a practical impact. Islamic countries are far more numerous, and the inherent cause (or pretext, in many cases) for clamping down on diversity, female and lgbt freedom IS the religion itself. If you think the term is offensive, Sharianazis could also be nice. :-))

    2. No because islamofascist sympathisers deny freedom of speech only supporting if it convenient to their own cause.

    3. The most dangerous country on this planet for LGBTQ people is the very Christian country of Jamaica even though they don’t have the death penalty, “just” long prison sentences for LGBTQ people. Still LGBTQ Jamaicans are subjected to more hate based violence & murder than any other country in the world.

      I fully support those groups who march denouncing Islamic countries like Iran but I wouldn’t support any group that denounced Islam or Muslims in general. LGBTQ Muslims have a hard enough time facing bigotry both for being Muslim and LGBTQ. QuAIA has never denounced Judaism, only the policies of Israel as many of them are Jewish, a couple of their leaders are Jewish Israeli-Canadians who helped form QuAIA because they saw the effect of Israel’s policies on Palestinians 1st hand & felt badly mis-used when Israel started its pinkwashing campaign.

  12. Typical Tatchell – complete misunderstanding of the difference the right of free speech, and the privilege to be funded

  13. This debate is dead and done with in Toronto except for a few politicians trying to win the votes of the Israel can no do wrong crowd. All their efforts at trying to force Pride to censor QuAIA has only resulted in QuAIA’s message reaching far more people than they ever could’ve on their own. There are pro-Israel right or wrong groups who march in Pride every year in Toronto as well as LGBTQ groups protesting or supporting every imaginable issue or cause.

    The vast majority of Toronto’s LGBTQ communities just isn’t willing to accept censorship since most of us of a certain age at least remember too well of having any depiction of our lives censored. Freedom of expression was the right that won us most of our early pre Charter of Rights gains. LGBTQ groups in Toronto also advocate for free expression for anti-LGBTQ groups as well.

    I’m sick & tired of hetero, cis people trying to tell LGBTQ people what Pride is really supposed to be about.

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