The upcoming Pride Month observed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities in some countries commemorates the Stonewall riots. In New York City on 28 June 1969, a routine police raid of a Greenwich Village bar turned into a riot when patrons resisted arrest and fought the police. The event energized activists and raised public consciousness about LGBTQ people, though many queers were already very active (if invisible) in civil rights, anti-war, feminist movements, radical and leftist politics, and counter-culture.
Some LGBTQ communities have organized annual parades, protests and marches for 40 years. Reflecting the issues of the day, queers bring a diversity of political and social causes to the streets. However, in recent years, pride events have generally become less culturally or politically radical and more commercial.
Queers have taken up the cause of Palestine and specifically the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in solidarity with Palestinians.
For the last few years in Toronto, the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) has marched. Last year, they were banned and then – after a significant backlash in the community – permitted to march again. City government officials have threatened to cancel funding for Pride Toronto on account of QuAIA’s participation, even though the City Manager “determined that the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid’ in and of itself does not violate the City’s Anti-discrimination policy” and QuAIA has promised not to participate.
QuAIA presented this video at a city council meeting on Wednesday.
On May 25, 2011, QuAIA (Queers Against Israeli Apartheid) presented this video at Toronto City Council’s Executive Committee as our deputation on the Toronto City Manager report on Pride Toronto’s compliance with City anti-discrimination policy. The City Manager concluded that the term “Israeli apartheid” did not violate any laws or city anti-discrimination policy. After a great deal of political posturing Executive Committee finally voted to accept the City Manager’s Report, removing a major barrier to Pride funding for 2011.
Meanwhile, in New York City – a mere 10 minute walk from where the Stonewall riots started in 1969 – the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center announced that it will open its doors to another group of activists named Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Earlier this year, the center had banned a similar group after pressure from a local pro-Israel businessman, who has now announced a boycott of the center.