PRIDE TORONTO’S DIVERSITY AND DEMOCRATIC VALUESSACRIFICED IN FAVOUR OF POLITICAL FUNDING
An essay by Dr. Nick Mulé
Diversity Our Strength
is the official motto of the City of Toronto.
is also cited inPride Toronto’s mission in celebrating the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto’slesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, 2-spirited andallied communities (LGBTQ). Yet, diversity is being sorely forgotten in the otherwiseludicrous and unnecessary politics surrounding the Toronto Pride Parade and the participationof Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in the Pride Festival.‘Diversity’ for the City of Toronto captures gender identity and sexual orientation; ‘diversity’for Pride Toronto is to capture diversity of opinion, values, lifestyles, behaviours and politicalthought. This should be of prime importance to City politicians and Pride Toronto alike butseems to have short-circuited with Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Mayor Rob Ford, andslipped out of Pride Toronto’s grasp of knowledge – all of whom show a lack of understanding not only for the political analyses being made by QuAIA, but also their right toparticipate in the Pride Parade, which City Manager Joe Pennachetti recently ruled as not incontravention of the City’s non-discrimination policy.Indeed, unlike Ford, Mammoliti or Pride Toronto, the City Manager understands not only thatvarious forms of political expression are welcomed in the Parade, but that there is absolutelyzero basis to exclude QuAIA from the parade – and by extension, the rest of the festival –since QuAIA‘s focus is to challenge the discriminatory policies of a government (in this case,those of Israel) much to the disagreement of pro-Israeli groups that were also allowed toparticipate in the Pride Parade last year.However, Ford and Mammoliti continue to argue for City funding cuts to Pride Toronto basedon the unsubstantiated view that QuAIA is a hate group, despite the City Manger’s ruling thatthe group does not
communicate hate speech. This shows not only an inability to listen to anyalternative perspectives, but a tremendous disrespect for the democratic processes in place atCity Hall and the carefully-considered analyses that were made by Pennachetti and other Citystaff. It also shows very little tolerance for entirely legitimate (albeit unpopular orcontroversial) political expression within the City, which is of deep concern given that theCity’s Anti-Discrimination Policy also requires the City to protect people from discriminationbased on
, which should also include political convictions.If Mammoliti and Ford want to continue arguing for the ‘hatefulness’ of QuAIA’s politicalmessaging, then it should heed the City Councillor’s recommendation and take up the matterwith the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.For its part Pride Toronto is currently and hastily implementing a dispute resolution process(DRP) – an ill-informed mechanism that was recommended in a report written for PrideToronto by the questionably-formed Community Advisory Panel (CAP) – which amounts to averitable witch hunt. Indeed, it will let a quasi-judicial body of legal experts (not all of whomare LGBTQ-identified) to rule on the admissibility of groups within the Pride Festival, basedon the public complaints that are brought forward to them by
individual or group.