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Queer Ontario Opposes Censorship by Pride Toronto at 2010 Pride

May 26th, 2010

Toronto: Members of Pride Toronto’s staff and board held a news conference in front of their office at 14 Dundonald Street in Toronto yesterday to announce formally its board’s decision to ban the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ from being used in the Pride festivities this year. Gathered across the street were members of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), whom this is very much directed at, Queer Ontario, long time queer activists, artists and community organizers of all generations concerned about free speech.

Based on the rationale provided by Pride Toronto at the news conference, Queer Ontario is deeply concerned about the process that is unfolding. Essentially, Pride Toronto is conceding to threats by discredited City Council member and mayoral candidate Georgio Mammoliti, as well as the maneuverings of City Councillor Kyle Rae and fellow City bureaucrats. Queer Ontario founder and spokesperson Nick Mulé states “It appears Pride Toronto has opted to appease some City officials applying pressure based on misinformation regarding QuAIA and the use of the term ‘Israeli apartheid’, rather than work directly with the community in educating the City to develop a nuanced understanding of the human rights and discrimination issues at play.”

Pride Toronto and the City of Toronto’s discomfort with the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ does not give them the right to label it ‘hateful’ or ‘discriminatory’ and ban its use in a climate of growing international support for the movement. This is an ill-conceived and politically naïve strategy, as they have now buttressed the issue of freedom of speech and have positioned themselves as censors. Mulé continues: “Politics, human rights, freedom of speech and the principle of LGBT-positive social inclusion cannot be sacrificed at the expense of monetary and corporate interests. Pride events were built by the community as defined by the community and will not have its freedom of speech censored.”

The recently revealed behind-the-scenes actions undertaken months ago by Pride Toronto’s board and executive director and their decision not to work with the community seriously call into question their ability to run the organization in an accountable and respectful manner. The growing feelings of alienation by the community towards Pride Toronto quickly became labeled “negativity and anger” when the truth of their dealings with the City to ban QuAIA were revealed. Pride Toronto has much work to do to live up to this year’s 30th anniversary theme of ‘You Belong’.

Queer Ontario is a provincially based network of individuals who are members of the gender and sexually diverse populations and their allies committed to liberationist and sex positive principles that focus on questioning, challenging and seeking reform to social norms and laws that regulate queer people. Queer Ontario engages in public education, political action, promoting access and diversity and coalition building.

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