Yesterday, the board members of Kulanu, Toronto's main Jewish LGBT organization, issued a press release making their position known re: this weekend's Toronto Dyke March and Pride Parade events and the fact that this year marks the first time that the Toronto Pride executive has deigned to officially allow anti-Israel messaging (in the form of a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, or QuAIA).
Heebonics readers will be familiar with this topic from my May 21 blog entry "A Queer kind of ignorance emerging in Toronto". There was lengthy commentary and some interesting discussion about the topic. Some of the anti-Israel signs spotted in last year's Toronto Pride parade looked something like this:
Here's the bulk of Kulanu's release and some of the banners they plan to hoist proudly this weekend, interspersed throughout.
“While Pride parades are innately political, the political issues addressed by these parades have primarily focused on national and international LGBTQ human rights issues. The official entry of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in Toronto’s Pride Parade this year has brought the Israeli/Palestinian situation to the fore,” said Nate Fuks, a member of Kulanu Toronto’s executive committee.
“Queer experience demonstrates that free expression and protest are necessary to effectively speak out on issues of oppression and social justice, but at the same time, it’s important that a positive, affirming and constructive message is expressed so as not to drive a wedge between many within the Queer community who share similar social justice values and goals,” Mr. Fuks added.
Kulanu Toronto notes that Israel has taken significant and positive steps to respect LGBTQ people and their rights, including, among other things, legal recognition of foreign performed same-sex marriages, decriminalization of homosexuality, recognition of same-sex adoption, same-sex spousal benefits and inheritance rights, and state funding of sex reassignment surgery.
“Israel has an active gay community, with well-attended annual Pride festivals. The right to hold a Pride festival in Jerusalem has been repeatedly upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court despite the unified opposition of religious groups representing at least three major religions,” said Nicole Nussbaum, a fellow executive member.
Ms. Nussbaum added: “Kulanu also recognizes the tremendous work of Israeli LGBTQ groups, such as the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, which work on a grass-roots level to help advance the rights of LGBTQ people of all backgrounds and promote the values of tolerance and pluralism in Israel”. Jerusalem Open House has been the driving force behind Jerusalem Pride – Love Without Borders, the signature event and celebration of LGBTQ pride in the city.
Kulanu Toronto is proud of the accomplishments of the Israeli Queer community and their embodiment of Pride Toronto’s 2009 “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” theme.
According to Kulanu's Toronto Coordinator, Justine Apple, the group will be marching with Israeli and rainbow flags this year to show solidarity with Israel and help counter QuAIA's presence at the parade. For more on this story, read the June 11 CJN report.