The group, whose critique of Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories has earned it accusations of anti-Semitism, fought hard to stay in the parade last year and won a symbolic victory this week when city staff decided it doesn’t violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy.
But they argue holding their own events outside Pride will put pressure on a mayor who has said in the past he’d rather the city not fund the parade (or any others). During his 10-year career as a councillor for Etobicoke, Mr. Ford made comments many called homophobic, including the suggestion that “if you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won't get AIDS, probably.” As mayor, his was the only vote against restoring funding for provincially subsidized syphilis and HIV screening programs.
“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” QuAIA spokeswoman Elle Flanders said in a statement. “By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”
The Toronto Star notes that some councillors want the Pride committee to issue a permanent ban.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said he will put forth a motion at council’s executive committee on Wednesday making Pride funding contingent on receiving a letter from the organization guaranteeing to the city that QuAIA will not participate.
The letter, Mammoliti said, must say that Pride will “enforce” QuAIA’s exclusion, not simply confirm that Pride has received notice of QuAIA’s intention to exclude itself.
“If they’re prepared to write that letter, then they’ll get their cheque, the way they get it every year. . . if not, then we can’t do it, because we’re not going to sit around and do this debate every year, wonder whether or not this group is going to participate,” Mammoliti said.
Pride’s co-chair, Francisco Alvarez, said the organization could not write such a letter. The decision about QuAIA’s participation, he said, will be made through Pride’s new dispute-resolution process, not by the board of directors.
Under the process, complaints about parade participants will be ruled upon by a panel of adjudicators selected from a roster mostly composed of distinguished lawyers.
For whatever its worth, the Canadian Jewish Congress is apparently satisfied with the solution.