By Emma Cosgrove
Toronto Mayor John Tory said it’s “a welcome development to Toronto” that the activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) has disbanded.
Tory gave a talk at Ryerson Thursday as part of the fourth-annual Ted Rogers School of Management speaker series called “Law, Business, Politics – The Real World.”
QuAIA, a pro-Palestine group that announced their retirement this week, has spoken out against “pinkwashing,” which, as stated on the group’s website, is “Israel’s use of gay rights to divert international attention away from the state’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”
The group has incited controversy among city politicians for attending Toronto Gay Pride parades in the past.
“[Israel] is a democratic state that respects human rights, that actually protects and respects gay rights in particular, the only country in the Middle East that does. To have that group marching in the parade—I understand it’s free speech, [but] it didn’t make sense to me,” Tory said.
According to the Toronto Star, Tory said in September 2014 that the parade should be denied funding if QuAIA were to attend.
“I said if they wanted to go on the very same day as the pride parade and have a demonstration somewhere else about Israel or their concerns about anything in the world they wanted, I don’t have a problem with that,” Tory said.
He called the term Israeli apartheid “an abusive, a highly unfair and inappropriate use of the word.”
“I’m not Jewish and I’m not Israeli but as a Canadian I’m offended by the fact that they would use the word apartheid to describe either anything to do with the Jewish faith or to do with the Israeli state and how it runs itself,” Tory said.
QuAIA is disbanding because the “deteriorating situation in the Middle East,” among other issues, has “pulled their activist energies in many directions,” according to their website. Despite this, the group is content with their accomplishments.
“We organized, we shifted public opinion, we raised awareness, we stood in solidarity and created a space for people to talk about Palestine,” a post on the website reads.