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Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to march in Vancouver Pride parade

"There were no problems at all; nothing like what the folks in Toronto had to endure."

A group calling itself Vancouver Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) will march in Sunday’s Vancouver Pride parade to show solidarity with queer Palestinians.

“We registered in July, so we’re officially participating in the parade,” QuAIA volunteer Magìn Payet Scudellari told Xtra on July 30.

It’s the first time the newly formed group will participate in the parade, says Scudellari, who says the Vancouver group is not affiliated with a similarly named Toronto group that was initially banned by Pride Toronto.

In March, Pride Toronto introduced a policy calling for all signage to be vetted prior to the Toronto parade. Under pressure from members of the gay and lesbian community, Pride Toronto backed down only to subsequently announce a ban on the term “Isreali apartheid” in the parade. Many in the gay community were outraged by Pride Toronto’s censorship, turning out in force to protest the move.

Read about the whole controversy here.

Pride Toronto eventually backed down and allowed the group to march.

Unlike the censorship controversy that raged in Toronto, Scudellari says the Vancouver group’s registration for the Vancouver Pride parade couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

The Vancouver Pride Society has been “very, very easy and supportive of us,” she says. “There were no problems at all, nothing like what the folks in Toronto had to endure.

“I just sent the application in as any other entry would do and paid the fee, and it was all very smooth,” Scudellari adds.

She says the group, which is hoping to field about 60 marchers, will be positioned near the end of the parade, “in the spot around the 100s.”

Scudellari says, after watching the attempts to censor the Toronto QuAIA, it is “important for a group of us here to also participate in the parade with a similar message.”

“I think for a lot of us, the fact that a queer organization with a political message was denied access to the [Toronto] parade was sort of the last straw in terms of what has been an erosion of the political message of Pride,” Scudellari elaborates. “So definitely, that was a catalyst for us to decide to participate this year.”

Xtra’s attempts to reach Vancouver Pride Society president Ken Coolen were unsuccessful up to posting time.

In May, Coolen said a sign-vetting policy would be out of step with the spirit of the event.

“I would say that we are a celebration of diversity, and to allow that diversity within our parade is what the purpose is all about,” Coolen told Xtra then.

If a controversy like the one in Toronto arose during Vancouver Pride, he said, the issue would be taken to the board of directors and to different community groups to get their views on the matter.