pride parades

Palestinian Debate Hits Toronto’s Public Display of Gaydom


Canadian gays just want to dance in Lycra and put on fake eyelashes while celebrating at the Toronto Pride Parade later this month, but now the event is HQ for a debate on anti-Semitism! The Canadian Jewish Congress is making a stink about letting the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid march in the parade (they’re against Palestinian occupation) and having gay activist El Farouk Khaki, who they claim to be anti-Semitic (he gave a speech for QuAIA), lead as pride marshal. It’s the battle of the pink triangles vs. the interlocking triangles. (Photo: TaurusGuy)

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  • Kieren

    In Toronto here and normally only complain about the commercialization of the Toronto Pride Parade (and not so much because I hate companies being in the parade, but because they put no effort in their floats which shows a total lack of respect).

    In this instance I agree with the The Canadian Jewish Congress but not because I am of one mind with the issue of Palestine and Israel. I just find it odd when a parade that exists as a celebration of being gay and out and proud is co-opted for other political views that are not specific to the queer community (not to downplay their importance at all).

    Since we have this event, let’s focus on the issues it was designed to explore. You have another issue, then find another venue or another day and by all means get your voice heard.

    Already this group has distracted media and the public from issues as they pertain the the rest of us ‘mos.

  • Jon B

    As a gay jew, I think it’s a little weird to say “pink triangles vs. interlocking triangles” considering the pink triangle has its roots in the holocaust. Plus, of the three Abrahamic religions, Jews have supported gay rights far more than any of the others.

  • Miss Understood

    Well you may think it’s a good idea to keep the focus. Feel free to suggest it. But, if the organizers believe in free speech they will let people say what they want. So someone passes you for 30 seconds saying something you don’t like or think is irrelevant to the event, so what? The minute groups are expelled for the content of their speech we are in trouble.

  • Kieren

    @Miss Understood: Never said they should be banned. And as the original story pointed out the organizers of the parade have no plans to ban them.

    The ‘so what’ however is that it isn’t 30 seconds, is it? It’s additional media exposure that gets pulled off on a tangent. It’s the public not being asked to discuss issues that are gay specific but instead issues that have nothing to do with the nature of the parade. The word selfish comes to mind.

    They can march all they want, and march under the banner they have chosen. I just think it’s bad form. Oh, and I did I mention the word selfish?

  • Mark

    @Miss Understood: This has nothing to do with free speech. The parade organizer gets to decide what kinds of participants it will allow.

    As it is, the Pride Committee will have live with the repercussions of its decision. I expect (and hope for) boycotts by participants, spectators, and sponsors.

  • Phoenix (Let Your Flag Fly Free)

    Being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-Semitic. It also isn’t the same as being pro-Palestine. And for that matter being Pro-Palestine isn’t Anti-Semitic either. I, for instance, think both sides are douche-tastic. They both kill and maim for land and cloak it in religion. Neither is has worked all that hard for “Peace In The Middle East” therefore neither one is worthy of praise. I am not anti-Semitic. I like most Jews just fine (the only one so far I don’t like is Dov Hikind). And if The Canadian Jewish Congress has not noticed Palestine and Israel are “apart”. The last time I checked those countries are separated by a very large fence.

  • Phoenix (Let Your Flag Fly Free)

    Being pro-Palestine isn’t the same as being anti-Israel, either. One can be pro-Israel without being anti-Palestine, too. Also, while most Israelis are Jews, but not all Jews are Israelis.

  • jason

    This is a gay pride/gay exhibitionist parade. It isn’t a political parade. If the Queers Against Israel want to march, let them do so elsewhere.

    Stop trying to re-define a parade according to your foreign politics.

  • Paul

    As one of the few people posting here actually from Toronto, let me be the first to present you with a nice big cup of STFU.

    First of all, the parade, here in Toronto and elsewhere, has its roots in political uprising. In fact, in 1981, the year Pride Toronto was incorporated, gays and lesbians hit to the streets in the thousands to protest the cops raiding gay establishments. So anyone who says “it isn’t a political parade” doesn’t know the history of it.

    Secondly, I know from experience that Pride (at least here in Toronto) has a long and proud history of including contingents that focus on a variety of issues. In the 1980s, the Toronto pride parade included a contingent campaigning against South African apartheid. Why should it be any different now?

    And anyone who thinks the Canadian Jewish Congress has any legitimacy on gay rights, just research who their immediate past president is — none other than Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who sat on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, an anti-gay organization that encourages “curing” homosexuality! A group with this track record on gay rights (and hasn’t even registered to march in the parade itself) has no right telling the gay community what we can include in our parade.

  • TANK

    Being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-Semitic.

    Since when do you have to be anti isreal to be opposed to some of isreal’s policies? LOL! YOu are antisemitic, make no mistake.

  • jason


    Sexual politics, yes. Foreign politics, no.

    The gay rights movement is based on sexual politics, not foreign nationalistic politics.

  • TANK


    SO the gay rights movement has nothing to do with foreign laws which criminalize being gay or having same sex sex, and mete out severe punishments to those found guilty? THanks for enlightening all about the difference between “sexual politics” and “nationalistic politics.” Have you thought about writing a book entitled “sexual politics”? It could be about relationships. Have some chocolate.

  • Ted C.

    I, too, live in Toronto, and I’m happy for them to march. If some pro-Israeli group wants to march, they can march too.

    Gay people are not a monolith. We have a range of opinions, and we certainly have interests other than just sexuality. It’s important to show the wider community that.

  • sure

    @Miss Understood: Yes, misunderstood, let’s also have Carrie Prejean in the parade, ’cause you know the moment we ban someone for what they want to say, democracy is in trouble.

  • Mohamed

    There’s a distinction between anti-zionist and anti-semitic. Bring pro-Palestinian does not mean you are anti gay rights. Surely we can distinguish between the issues of politics, religion and human rights.

    Critics, however, are the first to confound these in order to beef up there argument.

    Everyone has the right to express there views. The unfortunate part of this is the moderate majority on both sides of the Arab Israeli conflict are drowned out by the voices of the extremists.

  • TANK


    True. But to be against the existence of the israeli state puts one in the position of Iran, and in addition to being antizionist, the iranian leadership is out and out antisemitic. Most people against the existence of israel as a separate concern from israel’s treatment of palestinians, are antisemitic. The very idea of a jewish state repulses them…

    One can be pro isreali state and against israel’s treatment of many palestinians as well as against terroristic palestinian tactics…even for a separate palestinian state, too.

  • Mohamed

    Tank, I think we agree :)

  • alan brickman

    Gyas hate jews??? big surprise….

  • alan brickman

    I agree!! being “pro straight marriage” shouldn’t “offend” gays either…..

  • jason

    Of course gay people have different views. But this is a “gay pride” march. It’s supposed to be about taking pride in being gay and taking pride in our advances. It’s the definition, stupid.

  • Judge, Jury and Smarty Pants

    @Tank – you’re an idiot. Have some chocolate.

    @Paul – one does not have to be from Toronto to get to comment on the Toronto Pride Parade. If that was the case then many of the people planning to march against Isreal should STFU because they are neither from Isreal nor Palestine. Nor could we ever comment on human rights in China, because many of us are not Chinese. Terrible logic.

    Poltics has always been part of the pride march. GAY politics. Politics of sexuality.

    What El Farouk Khaki is doing is merely trying to trump something he doesn’t see as significant enough (issues surrounding gay rights and queer inclusion) for something he would rather debate (the issue of Palestine and Isreal).

    I could have voted for him in the last election (he wanted to represent my riding) … I am so glad I didn’t.

  • Thomas

    Firstly the CJC was the only faith organization to seek legal status in favour of Delwyn Vriend’s right as a gay man to teach in Alberta. In fact the Supreme Court adopted much of the CJC’s argument and won the day.

    Second I can find no posting in any newspaper that suggests the CJC thinks El Farouk Khaki is anti-Semitic.

    Third, Israel remains the only country in the Middle east where gay rights are written into state law. Try being Gay in any other Mid-East country and see where that gets you.

    Fourth, an old and dear friend of mine, David Kelly (former ED of PWA and a legend in our community) who died a number of years ago was eulogized by Bernie Farber at his funeral. I have never forgotten that eulogy. Farber is the head of the Jewish Congress. He is undoubtedly gay-friendly.

  • LKS

    @Paul: I am a gay man that has volunteered for the CJC. I knew that Rabbi Bulka had sat on the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality for a short time. A few of us brought this to the attention of Mr. Farber. We were told that the Rabbi had a year earlier asked that he be removed from the organization. He resigned because he found it to be irreconcileable with his views on therapy.

  • alliant


    Sorry but SFTU isn’t my brand. To the best of my knowledge, fellow-Torontonian, CJC has said that introducing Middle East politics into the Parade is ironic because the Gay community, so long the victim of exclusion, should be especially sensitive to marginalizing other communities. Dare I mention that Israel, with all of its flaws *is* the best country in which to live in the Middle east if you are Gay? Pride in Cairo, anyone? As for CJC’s history….you should also mention that CJC intervened in Vriend, the landmark human rights case that helped establish sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

  • Rain

    Hmmm…a little history might be enlightening. The very first of such “parades” was not a parade at all. It was a political protest march in response to the events of the year before (June 1969).

    Actually, in New York, there were two competing opinions, much like today in Toronto. One wanted to celebrate (the decriminalization of homosexuality in New York), the other wanted to keep the focus on Gay rights. Guess which one won out?

    As for the international angle, there was only one death attributed to the events surrounding Stonewall. That was a foreign student from Argentina who jumped to his death from the police precinct where he was being jailed after the riots. It was common practice for New York papers to publish the names and pictures of those arrested on “morals charges” back then.

    He was mortified that his parents would find out that he was involved in a Gay protest. He jumped out of the precinct window and impaled himself on an iron fence below.

    So, yes, even at its beginnings the Gay Pride movement has had an international, political tangent as well as a celebratory one.

    Make of that what you will.

  • Paul

    I don’t know why someone would automatically assume that a group named “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” is against the existence of the Israeli state. I actually don’t know their position on that, but I find it telling that people would infer that based on their name alone.

    Did groups opposed to South African apartheid oppose the existence of the South African state, or did they oppose apartheid?

    I think the headline from the Toronto Sun tells the real reason why the Canadian Jewish Congress is making such a big stink about Pride this year: “Jewish groups furious that outspoken Muslim will be parade marshal in annual gay festival.”

    They just hate Muslims, even if they’re gay. Plain and simple.

  • LKS

    There is no question that politics (writ small “p” and gay) were at the heart of gay pride. That was more than 25 years ago.

    Today Pride is a festival a celebration and Farber has hit the nail on the head. As I understand his position the Pride festival is no time for the divisive politics of the Middle East. And he is right. If Pride is to be inclusive, accusing Jews who support Israel of being supporters of apartheid is ugly and exclusive. Imagine how one would feel being wrongly labeled a racist at a Pride parade?

    Shame on those who have an agenda of exclusion at Pride. Farber deserves much credit for standing up to these bullies.

  • LKS

    @Paul: Paul sad to say this comment betrays how you feel about Jews. Can you find one quote, anything at ALL to back this up? If you can’t then either apologize or admit you are an anti-Semite. Awaiting your proof or apology.

  • Sue

    Paul, I have to agree with Alliant, LKS and Thomas, you do not choose your words carefully and they are left to misinterpretation. This coupled with your poor research skills does not speak well for you.

    Thomas and Alliant thank you for the Vriend reference. I googled it and was surprised to find what an essential role was played by CJC. To suggest therefore that the Jewish Congress is homophobic is horribly wrong. Paul owes CJC an apology.

  • jason

    Gay pride is defined as taking pride in being gay. It’s not about taking pride in opposing Israel or opposing Palestine or whatever. By all means state your viewpoint. But do it in a different forum to that of the gay pride march.

    Shit, we have enough on our plates as it is.

  • terrylevine

    Pride has always been political because we’ve always been fighting for our rights. So I think politics certainly has a place at Pride. However, anti-Israel gays need to realize that Israel is the only progressive place in the middle east. In fact, it’s the only country in the region that has pride parades (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) and the only place where you don’t have to worry about being killed for being gay. And Palestinian gays flock to Israel when they come out because they’re afraid of being murdered in beautiful progessive Palestine.

    If al-Khaki and his gang want to protest something, I suggest they publicize the human rights violations that take place daily in Arab and Muslim countries. Let’s talk about the murder of gay Arabs in Arab countries at the parade.

    I’m all for that.

  • Mohamed

    I thought Pride was about gay rights, including civil, political and human rights. Wasn’t that what Stonewall was about in 1969? It’s certainly what started the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney in 1978.

    Around the world Jewish and Muslim gay groups take part in these pride or Mardi Gras parades. Of course they oppose the abuse of homosexuals in their homelands, but marching in these events is about coming together, under the banner of being LGBTQ, demonstrating our similarities outweigh our differences.

    I think you will find even in Tel Aviv Pride Jews and Arabs march together. Of course Palestinians find it difficult to participate due to movement restrictions, but let’s not forget that Jewish participants are persecuted by Orthodox Jews as well.

    Everyone has the right to advocate or express their opinion. These pride marches would never exist if those before us never did.

  • LKS

    That’s the beauty of Israel, Jewish and Muslim gays and lesbians can march together. And frankly they couldn’t give a rats ass about thr orthodox, In the end the orthodox are meaningless. In the PA the Orthodox Muslims are not meaningless…it could mean your life if you are gay.

  • Attmay

    @10 Herr Paul:

    “Why should it be any different now?”

    Have you got a few hours? For starters:

    —Israel is the only country in the Middle East that not only has gay rights, but they are ahead of the United States and more or less on a par with the UK. The Knesset decriminalized gay sex in 1988, fifteen years before Lawrence V. Texas. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got gay marriage first.
    —Israeli Arabs are treated better by their government that the PA treats their own people.
    —Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
    —Gay Palestinians are forced to flee to Israel where they are better off.
    —Israelis who criticize their government don’t meet the same fate as Palestinians who do the same to the PA.

    Why is it wrong for the IDF to retaliate against those who are threatening innocent civilians who wish the destruction of a country? The African National Congress, for all its faults, did not seek the destruction of South Africa.

    When there is institutionalized discrimination against Israeli Arabs by the government, feel free to complain all you want.

    If that doesn’t convince you, there’s always this:

    And if you think it’s a fake, sorry:

Comments are closed.