rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Pride Toronto stands its ground against pro-Israel lobbyists

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

Earlier this week, I wrote about pro-Israel lobbyists threatening corporate and government funding for Toronto’s gay pride unless the festival banned a pro-Palestinian contingent from the parade. On May 27, the National Post erroneously reported that Pride Toronto had banned the “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” contingent.  In fact, no such decision had been made, and Pride Toronto issued a public clarification the next day to say that no groups had been banned.

The premier corporate sponsor of Pride also disputed the claim made in the B’nai Brith newspaper that they had asked for the contingent to be banned.  “We know that political issues may arise during Pride,” said Gregory Harrison of TD Bank Financial Group.  He said they have no problem with any group’s presence, as long as they don’t violate hate laws.

The tactic of trying to censor the group appears to have backfired for pro-Israel lobbyists.  In response to the rumour that the pro-Palestinian contingent would be banned from the parade, outrage poured in from across the queer community.

Tim McCaskell, one of the organisers of the 1981 protests against the bathhouse raids, penned an open letter to the Pride Committee, urging them to allow the contingent to march.  Community activist Peter Bochove was quoted in local queer newspaper Xtra, “When you don’t allow people to join the Pride parade you’re no longer representing the community.”

B’nai Brith’s sudden foray into queer community politics also provoked backlash among those who questioned its track record on LGBT rights. In her Toronto Star column yesterday, Antonia Zerbisias pointed out that B’nai Brith has allied itself with prominent leaders of the anti-gay movement, Charles McVety and John Hagee.

Regardless of B’nai Brith’s legitimacy in the queer community, it is still a powerful lobby organisation.  That is why some are still cautious about calling this a victory.

“Pride Toronto has stood its ground in favour of free speech, and they should be congratulated,” said Faraz Vahid Shahidi of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.  “But we know that supporters of apartheid won’t give up that easily.  They will keep approaching sponsors trying to exert whatever pressure they can upon the Pride Committee.”

Vahid Shahidi wants members of the queer community to show their support for Pride Toronto as it will likely face increasing threats to its funding over the coming weeks.

The best way to show your support?

“Join us in the parade!” he said. “Let’s show them that Pride is political.”

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.