TORONTO — Toronto’s main Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered organization, Kulanu Toronto, is asking the community to come march with it during the July 1 Pride Parade.
Justine Apple, Kulanu’s executive director, said she’s looking forward to celebrating the city’s cultural diversity and bringing more joy to the Pride Festival this year.
She said it was time to refocus on the positive aspects of the gay community and let go of the negativity that had surrounded her group’s battle to prevent a controversial, anti-Zionist organization from marching in the parade this year.
Kulanu had filed a complaint against Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) on June 8 using Pride Toronto’s new dispute resolution process, but it later dropped out of the process, saying the mechanism was inherently biased.
QuAIA didn’t participate in Toronto’s 2011 Pride Week, bowing to pressure from Pride organizers and the city’s gay and lesbian community to ensure that the city’s annual grant of nearly $104,000 flowed to the festival after an acrimonious public debate threatened to see the city cut its funding.
Toronto city council has condemned the phrase “Israeli apartheid” and is scheduled to fully review its anti-discrimination policies in September.
Apple said she hopes many people in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities will come out to support her organization at the parade.
“We would love everyone to join us. After all, we are the daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and colleagues to so many,” she said. “Gay or straight, we all belong in the colourful mosaic of the Jewish community. We want people to march with us for a positive, hate-free parade.”
Apple said she’s had confirmation from numerous community organizations that intend to send representatives to march with Kulanu, including the City Shul, Shir Libeinu, Hillel of Greater Toronto, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), and Jewish Family & Child.
Kulanu’s booth at the parade will be located at the corner of Church and Gloucester streets, Apple said.