Pride Toronto ban on QuAIA worst case of censorship in history of parade, says Queer Ontario founder

After extensive lobbying of Pride Toronto, corporate sponsors and city officials by Martin Gladstone and right-wing Jewish groups, Pride Toronto's Board decided, by a vote of 4 - 3, to disallow the use of the term "Israeli Apartheid" at the 2010 Pride festivities. At a press conference in Toronto on May 25, 2010, Pride Toronto's Executive Director and several Board members were met by 150 outraged protesters chanting "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Censorship has got to go!", "Politics are what makes pride, we won't run, we won't hide", "Whose pride? Our pride! Queers against Apartheid!", and "Resign!"

Members of Queer Ontario (www.queerontario.org) participated in the free speech protests. In this interview, Queer Ontario founder Nick Mulé explains more than two decades of historical attempts to censor LGBT activists at Toronto's Pride Parades beginning with conservatives not being comfortable with drag queens. But, he calls this year's decision the most overt case of censorship.

"Just taking this leap to say that we are going to outright ban this so that we can appease these people, without taking into consideration that the very community this event has been put on for and that the fact that we created this event from very political times in our history, was not very well thought out, unfortunately. I think it was quite ill-conceived, and as a result, they [Pride Toronto] have kind of positioned themselves to become censors in essence and, of course, that's not going to go very well with many in our community and they created a whole new problem for themselves on the eve of Pride as we head into the eleventh hour."

Mulé offers a way out of the censorship fiasco: "They [Pride Toronto] are in a tough spot, by all means. But there is a way to deal with this. There is a way to kind of slow things down, open up the dialogue, try to get as many people educated as possible so that we can come to an understanding of this. And even at the end of the day, if we find that we just can't quite agree with that position, whatever that position may be, we do have to respect freedom of speech. We have to respect the fact that people come from different perspectives. We are not a monolithic community and we have to make room for diversity.

He says that Pride Toronto "could have turned to us as a community." He warns that "if this ban continues to go through, I don't know whether confidence in the Board and staff of Pride Toronto can be sustained."

Video production: Anita Krajnc for rabbletv, May 27, 2010

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