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QuAIA to host seminars on its work

Still confusion about term 'Israeli apartheid': McCaskell

Dykes march in solidarity with queers in Palestine in the 2011 Dyke March. Credit: Marcus McCann

In an effort to reach out to the gay community and provide information about its work, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) has begun offering seminars to anyone interested in learning more.

QuAIA’s Tim McCaskell says there’s still a lot of confusion around the group’s advocacy work. To clarify the issues, he sent out a letter to several local queer organizations inviting them to get in touch.

For almost two years, QuAIA was in Toronto headlines and at the forefront of a bitter fight over free speech in the annual Pride parade.

The fight eventually went to city hall, where some councillors claimed QuAIA breached the city’s anti-discrimination policy, rendering Pride Toronto (PT) ineligible for city funding so long as QuAIA participated in Pride. A report from the city manager’s office eventually exonerated QuAIA and PT. Just before 2011 Pride, QuAIA announced it would not march in the parade.

Many people are familiar with the term “Israeli apartheid,” says McCaskell. “But there are still a lot of questions about why the term is used and why it’s a queer issue.

“We’re offering really casual drop-in seminars or discussion groups to talk about anything you want to know about,” he says. “If people want to squeeze us into their schedules, they are more than welcome.”

McCaskell hopes to put some perspective on local events and how they fit into the larger, international picture. He says the recent application for recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations has further raised the profile of the subject.

McCaskell says discussions may even detour to other countries, like Africa, to look at the history of apartheid.

“Even if they want to talk about what happened with Pride, we’d be happy to do that, too,” he says.

“But really, this is the work we are supposed to be doing, not spending all our time fighting about whether or not we get to march in the parade. We do solidarity work in the community and education in the community.”

For more information or to book an information session, email McCaskell at tim_mccaskell@hotmail.com or check out QuAIA’s website here.