Thursday, May 26, 2011

Toronto set to fund Toronto Pride to tune of several hundred thousand dollars

by Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, May 25, 2011 ( – The City of Toronto appears set to fund Toronto Pride with hundreds of thousands of dollars again this year after months of threats from city councilors and Mayor Rob Ford to pull funding.

Toronto Pride is seeking a $128,000 cultural grant from the city, in addition to about $250,000 of in-kind services such as police and garbage removal.  Though billed as “family-friendly,” the annual event has often been labeled a “sex parade,” as it regularly features people walking down the streets semi-nude or completely naked, and homosexuals engaging in public sex acts.

The funding controversy was not focused on the offensive nature of the Pride event itself, however, despite Mayor Ford’s professed belief in true marriage.  Instead, it centered around the involvement of the group ‘Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’ (QuAIA), which has been a major source of division within the Toronto homosexual community due to its controversial political aims.

After last year’s event, in which Pride allowed the group to march in an abrupt reversal only days in advance, Mayor Ford, then a city councilor, and fellow councilor Giorgio Mammoliti were able to convince the council to agree that no funds be given to Pride in 2011 should any group be allowed to march that violates the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

The city’s manager Joe Pennachetti had ruled earlier this year that the phrase “Israeli apartheid” does not violate the anti-discrimination policy, but Ford disagreed.

“If this group marches, they’re not going to get funded,” he said recently, according to the Toronto Sun. “It’s straightforward and we’ll take it from there.”

Pride agreed not to allow the group, and QuAIA itself said they would not take part, saying they didn’t want to be Mayor Ford’s “excuse” for cutting Pride’s funding.

“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” said spokesperson Elle Flanders.  “We are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”

Mammoliti pressed further, however, insisting that Pride put it in writing that they wouldn’t allow QuAIA, a demand they refused.

Mammoliti relented at Tuesday’s council executive meeting, after hours of discussion featuring 50 speakers, saying he was satisfied with Pride’s verbal assurances they wouldn’t allow the group.  As a result, the executive committee voted to receive the city manager’s report.

Mammoliti told the Toronto Sun that because council is withholding the funds until after the event, they will be able to ensure the group does not participate.  “If QuAIA surfaces and does their thing and if Pride doesn’t attempt to squash them, then I will be moving forward, as some others, to hold the funding,” he said.

Though Mayor Ford professed his belief in the definition of marriage as one man and one woman during his campaign, he has insisted in the face of claims of ‘homophobia’ that his campaign donated $5,000 to Toronto Pride last year.

He has come under pressure from homosexual activists to walk in this year’s Pride parade, but has refused thus far to state whether or not he will participate.

Contact Information:

Mayor Rob Ford
Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. West
Toronto ON M5H 2N2
Phone: 416-397-FORD (3673)

To find contact information for Toronto’s city councilors click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment