Home > Releases > Queer Ontario Applauds Pride Toronto’s Language Ban Reversal, but Questions Process

Queer Ontario Applauds Pride Toronto’s Language Ban Reversal, but Questions Process

June 30th, 2010

Pride Toronto announced on June 23rd that it has passed a resolution to reverse its ban of the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” at all Pride events, which will now be replaced by a policy requiring all participating groups to review and sign the City of Toronto’s Declaration of a Non-Discrimination Policy. In addition, the organization has also proposed to appoint a panel of ‘LGBTTIQQ2SA leaders and friends’ that would oversee the ‘protection’ and ‘advancement’ of the festival’s core values and principles by consulting directly with members of the community. The reversal comes just over a month to the day that Pride Toronto announced it would play censor with the LGBT communities to appease city councilors, bureaucrats and corporate sponsors. Queer Ontario applauds the change in policy, but is raising a series of questions regarding the process that led to this latest decision and how it will be implemented.

Queer Ontario founder, Nick Mulé says, “Although Douglas Elliott, Brent Hawkes and Maura Lawless the three individuals who proposed the resolutions should be commended for assisting Pride Toronto in reversing the ban, the way this was conducted and is being characterized is highly suspect. At a time in which protests in this city are growing in response to G20 leaders meeting behind closed doors the same process being undertaken with this controversy undermines efforts made by the community.” As such, Queer Ontario raises the following questions:

  • It is expected that most groups will sign the City’s Declaration of a Non-Discrimination Policy, yet will doing so raise concerns given how some city councilors and bureaucrats interpreted the policy with regard to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)?
  • What statement is being sent by Pride Toronto in privileging Elliott, Hawkes and Lawless with an audience behind closed doors and not listening to the protests of the rest of the community in the past month?
  • Why is Pride Toronto now prepared to return the question of city anti-discrimination policy being violated back to the city for determination, but earlier ignored this very strategy when put forth by the community?
  • Indeed, one has to wonder whether the self-appointed panel of ‘leaders and friends’ is not just another attempt to absolve Pride Toronto of its responsibility to maintain open and direct communication with the LGBT communities it serves?
  • Will such a consultation create an undue costly level of bureaucracy that further undermines the consultative process being demanded by the Pride Community Contract currently being devised by the LGBT community?
  • Can Pride Toronto be trusted to stand up for the community if the City does come forward with a lobby-driven complaint, despite evidence to the contrary?

“Until these questions are answered,” Mulé concludes, “it appears that moderate members of the community may have stepped in to facilitate a face-saving exercise for Pride Toronto in the hopes of smoothing over the controversies of this year’s Pride Festivities and to protect its World Pride ambitions for 2014. Accountability is still demanded.”

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