Toronto’s funding for Gay Pride questioned over ‘Israeli Apartheid’ signs
TORONTO, Ontario, July 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Toronto’s annual “Gay Pride” parade may be in jeopardy of losing its funding from the City of Toronto after virulently anti-Israeli activists were seen participating in the parade.
According to news sources, the parade is set to receive $128,000 from the city this year, about a quarter of the parade’s funding, in addition to about $250,000 of police and clean-up services – all at taxpayer’s expense.
City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, however, declared that funding to the “Gay Pride” parade should be cut after he witnessed pro-Palestinian marchers brandishing “Israeli Apartheid” messages.
“People can say and do what they want in this country,” Mammoliti said Monday. “They should be able to carry the banners they want, but not on the public dime.”
Mammoliti, who videotaped the anti-Israeli participants himself, says he took offense at the political message that he believes presents grounds for cutting public funds to the parade. In particular, he noted t-shirts with the message “Boycott Israeli Products,” a “Free Palestine” banner, and several people chanting “We’re sexy, we’re hot, Israeli Apartheid is not.”
Last year, after Jewish groups complained about messages flaunted by a group known as ‘Queers Against Israeli Apartheid,’ the City Council agreed to provide funding only at the conclusion of future parades and their accompanying nine-day festival.
Earlier this year, city officials demanded a guarantee from organizers that such groups would not be permitted to participate.
Meanwhile, Glen Brown, executive director of the event, has shot back at Mammoliti’s concern. “If there was a placard, I didn’t see it,” he said. “We are not in the business of censoring every bit of text and every T-shirt. If we censored every idea that Councillor Mammoliti doesn’t like, we wouldn’t have much of a festival.”
“We have been compliant with the city’s anti-discrimination policy. Now we are being asked to comply with policies that don’t even exist, that the councillor seems to be making up on his own.”
Mammoliti has suggested withholding funds until the city re-evaluates policies on funding such events with taxpayer’s dollars.
“I will attempt to put a stop to all funding to parades and marches until there’s a new policy in place at City Hall that doesn’t offend taxpayers in this city,” he said. “We shouldn’t be funding any political messaging at all. I think that we have to re-evaluate and reconsider everything we do with taxpayer’s dollars.”