Realizing that in the battle for public opinion, moderation is a virtue, gay rights organizers in Toronto stopped a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching in their gay pride parade this year.
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid drew the ire of the city of Toronto, which grants authority for the march to take place, funds it and provides security. The city threatened to pull funding from the parade, which would effectively shut the entire event down, because it feared that allowing Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to march would constitute an endorsement of a political message that has nothing to do with the celebration of tolerance and diversity through gay rights that the parade is meant to signify. Indeed, the Israeli Apartheid group has marched in several previous Toronto Pride Parades, and many people who had wished to attend the parade avoided it because they didn’t want to be associated with such radical groups.
The Toronto Sun detailed footage of a video of the group at least year’s parade:
200 QuAIA marchers carried anti-Israel signs, while marchers angrily chanted “Fist by Fist, Blow by Blow, Apartheid State, Has Got to Go” and at least one parade marcher was decked out in a shirt featuring a crossed-out swastika.
Everyone will have their own opinions about issues like Israel, but it remains to be seen why anyone concerned about gay rights would have such a high level of vitriol toward the only country in the Middle East which respects gay rights.
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which is a collaboration of gay Muslim groups and gay Jewish groups, railed against their being banned in a rather unorthodox flier released to its members. It decried “censorship” of “political expression” and sought the right to “free political speech.” But no one in Toronto is denying the group this. If Queers Against Israeli Apartheid wishes to express its views, it is welcome to hold its own demonstrations at a separate date. Controversial political views on something as off-topic as Israeli border policy have got nothing to do with the Toronto Gay Pride Parade, and radical groups should not be allowed to detract from the parade’s overall positive message.