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Community rallies to support Jewish LGBT group at Pride

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Kulanu Toronto and its supporters march at the Toronto Pride parade on July 1. [Patrick Church photo]

TORONTO — Members of Toronto’s gay and lesbian community enjoyed a rambunctious 2012 Pride Parade, despite the participation of a virulently anti-Israel organization in the march.

Kulanu Toronto, the city’s main Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered organization, drew a large number of guests to march with its members at the July 1 event.

Justine Apple, Kulanu’s executive director, said she was very happy with the turnout and support her organization received from both the Jewish community and other pro-Israel allies.

“It was amazing. We had more than 100 people march with us,” she said.

Supporters and marchers in Kulanu’s delegation included representatives of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the City Shul, McMaster Israel on Campus, Congregation Shir Libeynu, Temple Har Zion, First Narayever Congregation, Temple Sinai, Congregation Darchei Noam, JSpaceCanada, ARZA (Canadian Reform Zionists), and St. Paul Liberal MPP Eric Hoskins.

“We were proud to represent the Jewish community at the Pride Parade, where we marched to celebrate our double roles as proud members of the gay and lesbian community and proud supporters of the State of Israel,” Apple said. “We marched in an atmosphere of harmony and respect.”

On June 29, Pride Toronto’s new dispute resolution panel ruled that controversial group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) could participate in the parade this year. The panel heard arguments from B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights that sought to have the anti-Israel group barred from the Pride festivities.

The panel ruled that the term “Israeli apartheid” is not hate speech, since the City of Toronto’s own anti-discrimination policy doesn’t classify it that way, and neither human rights tribunals nor courts of law have ever ruled on the phrase.

In September, the city’s executive council is slated to review Toronto’s non-discrimination policy and also the term itself to decide whether the Pride Parade, which receives nearly $104,000 in city grants annually, should continue to receive public funding in 2013.

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