TORONTO — A controversial local anti-Israel, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (LGBT) group has announced that it plans to participate in the annual Toronto Pride Parade again this summer after a one-year absence.
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA) told the Toronto Star it wants to rejoin the parade after skipping last year’s event so that it would not put city funding at risk.
In March 2011, Mayor Rob Ford told The CJN that “taxpayer dollars should not go toward funding hate speech,” and he and some of his council allies threatened to withhold funding to the festival if QuAIA took part.
City council is scheduled to vote next month on a recommendation that it allocate $123,807 to this year’s Pride festival, being held June 22 to July 1.
Pride Toronto will compile and publish a list of applicants next month. As per new vetting mechanisms put in place by Pride last year – as a result of controversy surrounding QuAIA’s presence in prior years – the public can register complaints about applicants on the list to Pride’s dispute resolution panel.
The panel comprises legal experts who are responsible for evaluating complaints and deciding on whether to allow applicants to take part in festival events.
Justine Apple, executive director of Kulanu Toronto, the city’s main Jewish LGBT organization, told The CJN it’s too early to determine whether her group would file a complaint if QuAIA does apply to participate this year.
However, she said QuAIA is “marginalized” and “out of step” with Torontonians.
“Toronto wants nothing to do with [QuAIA’s] anti-Israel, inflammatory venom,” Apple said. “We’re interested in a welcoming and inclusive Pride. But we’ll take this as it comes. It’s too soon to decide what we’ll do about [QuAIA] at this point, but if we have to, we’ll put plans in place to file a complaint.”