At Toronto Pride today, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) dropped a giant banner reading "Support Palestinian Queers -- Boycott Israeli Tourism".
"We're drawing attention to Israel's use of LGBT rights as a propaganda tool to justify apartheid policies and the occupation of Palestinian territories," said QuAIA spokesperson and longtime gay rights activist Tim McCaskell. "We're saying to queer people, respect yourselves and others. Don't be used. Don't pinkwash apartheid. Boycott gay tourism to Israel until it ends its apartheid policies."
In June of 2010, Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS), a Palestinian queer group with members throughout Israel/Palestine, including the occupied territories, called on queers worldwide to boycott Israel. In March of this year, PQBDS specifically called for a boycott of gay tourism to Israel.
On April 13 of this year, the city manager presented his finding that the term "Israeli apartheid" did not contravene city policy or any Canadian law, and that its use by a participating organization should not be used to defund Pride Toronto. His report was accepted unanimously by city council. Exonerated by the report,on April 15, QuAIA told Rob Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti to find another pretext for their homophobic attacks on Pride. QuAIA committed to not marching in the 2011 Pride parade, but to engage in other activities during Pride Week. In the leadup to Pride, QuAIA hosted two events with renowned Jewish lesbian activist Sarah Schulman, and held a screening of queer films on Palestine. In previous years, QuAIA has fielded the largest contingent in the Pride parade, including a who's who of queer activists and leaders of all generations.
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