Pride Toronto has decided to reverse its previous ban on the use of the words “Israeli apartheid” in the July 4th parade.
In a media statement, the organisers of the event said that its board unanimously voted to instead compel all participants in the parade to read, sign and agree to abide by the City of Toronto’s non-discrimination policy.
Pride Toronto had banned the use of the contentious words by an organisation called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in the event following complaints by some members of the LGBT community that the term was anti-Semitic.
There were also concerns that if QuAIA made use of the term “Israeli apartheid” in the parade the event could be in violation of the city’s non-discrimination policy.
The ban resulted in a massive backlash against the organisers and accusations of censorship. More than 20 current and previous high-profile recipients of awards and honours from Pride Toronto – including this year’s international grand marshals – returned or renounced their honours in response to the restriction.
The decision to reverse the ban was made at a meeting attended by LGBT community leaders including Pastor Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church and human rights lawyer and Pride Lifetime Achievement award winner Doug Elliott.
“There are a large number of people that are sad at the way the community is currently torn over this issue,” says Pastor Brent Hawkes. “Pride has found itself in the middle of a difficult situation and we felt it was time to step in and see how we could help.”
Over the coming days, Parade participants will receive a copy of the City’s Anti-Discrimination Policy with a request to sign and return it ahead of the parade.
A representative advisory panel of community leaders will also be establish to recommend a set of strategic principles and a decision-making framework that will help shape future festivals.
Attracting over 1,2 million people, Pride Toronto is one of the world’s largest Pride events. It takes place in the first week of July and will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.