Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

Don't Censor Human Rights

Statement of QUIT! Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism in Solidarity with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) is saddened and outraged to hear that Toronto Pride has banned Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from this year’s pride celebration. This type of censorship is shameful and unprecedented in the history of the LGBT/queer movement.

The modern LGBT movement in North America was born of the civil rights and anti-imperialist movements of the 1960s. We have always been and continue to be a progressive community, concerned with more than just narrow "gay rights." We recognize that our liberation is tied up with the liberation of all peoples on this planet, and are proud to ally ourselves with the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and justice. The Palestinian groups Aswat- Palestinian Gay Women and alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, said it best: "We believe that as queers, ... we should protest against all forms of oppression and struggle together to promote the rights of minorities and oppressed groups. As Palestinian queers, our struggle relates to social injustices caused by the discrimination that is deeply rooted in Israel's policies and practices against the Palestinian people, straight and gay alike."

The people who have pressured Toronto Pride to ban QAIA are cynically using the mantle of preventing hate speech and discrimination. But there is nothing about QAIA's name, or its actions, which has anything to do with hatred or discrimination. They are not opposing any group of people, but specific, discriminatory policies of a government. Apartheid is a Dutch word meaning separation; in current usage as defined by the United Nations, it means segregation and discrimination. So claiming that the use of the word apartheid is discriminatory is to say that a group called Queers Against Segregation discriminates against segregationists. QAIA has never claimed that Israel is the only country practicing segregation. They acknowledge and take responsibility for Canada's own history of discrimination, just as we in QUIT! acknowledge that the United States is as much a terrorist state as Israel is. The fact that many countries violate human rights does not make it right to exclude queer groups that focus on specific injustices, and it certainly is not legitimate to exclude only one such group. Indeed, to do so discriminates against Palestinians and those who defend their human rights.

For a queer parade to ban a queer group because powerful outside forces object to their politics is particularly ironic, given the history of queers being banned from other communities' celebrations, such as the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. Doing do so in order to get funding from the government is a betrayal of everything that LGBT Freedom Day commemorates, from the Stonewall rebellion to the AIDS activist movement.

We call on Toronto Pride to revoke its decision to ban QAIA and apologize to the Palestinian queer groups who have requested international solidarity and received a slap in the face instead.

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