The group of douchebags who protest the only democratic nation in the Middle East, and the only nation in the Middle East to not administer the death penalty for gay people.
I encourage these idiots to do a pride march in Saudi Arabia and see how well that goes over.
Gay rights are about equality and the Pride Parade is a celebration of such equality. In no way, shape or form should we involve these kinds of irrelevant politics in this march.
Toronto’s Pride parade began as a strategy in attracting widespread popular support, in a time-honoured, peaceful, way, for gay rights — not only in Canada, but everywhere. As time went by, social acceptance and legal parity became a reality here. The tone of the parade and the surrounding spin-off events then became celebratory for most participants, and a source of vast entertainment for spectators from near and far — not to mention an important source of revenue for Toronto coffers.
That changed some years ago when a rabidly anti-Israel group, Queers Against Israel Apartheid (QuAIA), seized the occasion of the parade to showcase its political hostility, and to cast an ugly shadow over the whole parade. Gay rights activist Martin Gladstone made a documentary of the 2009 parade, called Reclaiming our Pride. In it the hatred on the faces of many QuAIA and D[ykes]AIA marchers is palpable. One saw swastikas on T-shirts characterizing Israel as a Nazi state, and heard menacing chants, like “Fist by fist, blow by blow, apartheid state has got to go.” The film offered persuasive evidence that QuAIA were not ordinary political protesters with specific grievances, but Israel exceptionalists, gripped by an irrational obsession with the Jewish state’s allegedly fathomless evils, while utterly oblivious to horrific human rights abuses elsewhere.
In the years since, the issue has become an annual flashpoint in Toronto politics. Some city councillors, and many residents, believe the city should not be funding a parade that permits such a hateful group to march. Others view it as a free speech issue (even though nobody is denying QuAIA’s right to bruit their message elsewhere). The presence of QuAIA at the Pride parade has thus morphed into an annual controversy, where gay rights, free speech, the role of government in funding civic events and, of course, Middle Eastern geopolitics all mix together to form a noxious summertime brew.
On June 24, Ali Abunimah, author of the book One Country, a Bold Proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian impasse will speak in Toronto on the subject of “pinkwash”: i.e. “How Israel uses sex and marketing to distract from Apartheid.” (Abunimah’s one-state “solution” to the Israel-Palestinian impasse, it should be noted, is code for the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state.) His suggestion, implicit in the title of his talk, that Israelis feign tolerance for gays as part of universally understood, but never discussed, charade to gain the world’s sympathy is ludicrous. Israelis do not allow their political “masters” (who can be voted out at regular intervals) to dictate their social and cultural mores. Gays are accepted as equals in Israel because Israelis are modern, enlightened people, whose cultural values are shared by us and just about everywhere else in the West.
Russia’s travesty of democratic political action should be the theme of this year’s parade
The appearance of Mr Abunimah, here to lecture Canadians on the moral inferiority of Israelis, strikes an ironic note as we learn that Russia is moving to outlaw gay “propaganda.” By a 436-0 vote, Russia’s parliament passed a bill last week that forbids “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” mandating stiff fines and even jail terms for violators. This vote followed hard on the heels of another vote passed by the State Duma (the lower house of parliament), which provided jail terms for anyone convicted of offending religious feelings (we have Pussy Riots’ anti-Kremlin protest to thank for that one).
Not a very nice place for minorities and nonconformists, Russia. If the bill passes after going to the Federation Council and then being signed by President Put
in, as nobody doubts will occur, it will be a crime to hold gay pride events, speak up in defence of rights for gays, or to affirm that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual ones.
International rights groups were appalled by the bill. Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch said that “Russia is trying very hard to make discrimination look respectable by calling it ‘tradition’, but whatever term is used in the bill, it remains discrimination and a violation of the basic human rights” of homosexuals.
This should be carefully noted by Toronto’s many commendable gay rights activists. Pride is in danger of being defined in the public’s perception by its lack of a respect-worthy purpose. If Pride is to be taken seriously, if it is to be something more than a civicly profitable annual party, then it must reclaim its moral high ground, and stand up for gay rights where support is desperately needed. All fair-minded Canadians should be disgusted by QuAIA’s hijacking of its once-noble goal by a group whose raison d’être is the delegitimation of the only democratic, gay-friendly country in its region.
Russia’s travesty of democratic political action should be the theme of this year’s parade, with all participating groups being encouraged to make a united stand. As an international bellwether in shaming President Putin and his puppet parliament, Toronto’s Pride would truly have an achievement to take pride in.
I don’t live in Toronto, and I won’t be able to attend Mr. Abunimah’s talk. Maybe a few (hundred) good people — gays, straights, whoever — who think offering support to persecuted gays in Russia is a better idea than trashing Israel could make this case on my behalf to Mr Abunimah and his QuAIA supporters. All they have to do is show up on June 24 at the 519 Church St. Community Centre at 7 p.m. (admission is free!!).
I wonder how gays are accepted in the world? Certainly Israel should be the least of their worries.