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WorldPride Toronto bars men’s rights group CAFE from parade

Canadian Association for Equality told they ‘contravene spirit of Pride’

The Canadian Association for Equality had their permit to walk in this year’s WorldPride parade revoked a few days before the event. Credit: Xtra file photo

WorldPride organizers have revoked the permit of a local men’s rights group to walk in the Pride parade June 29.

Despite claiming to have walked in the parade last year, the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) was notified by letter the week of June 24 that their permit for this year’s parade had been revoked because the work of their organization may “contravene the spirit of the mission, vision, and values of Pride Toronto and WorldPride.”

CAFE, whose website says that the organization is committed to achieving equality for all Canadians, have been associated with several controversial events over the last two years.

In 2013, the group brought American men’s rights speaker and author Dr Warren Farrell to the University of Toronto for a lecture. Farrell is the author of The Myth of Male Power and Why Men Earn More.

The group was also forced to cancel a concert celebrating a holiday they call “Equality Day” that was supposed to take place on the Toronto Islands, at Gibraltar Point, on June 1. Artscape, which owns the space at Gibraltar Point, was unaware of CAFE’s controversial connections until furor over the concert was raised on social media, according to a report in the Toronto Star. Artscape officials asked the group to hold their event elsewhere.

Kevin Beaulieu, the executive director of Pride Toronto, tells Xtra that concerns about CAFE’s activities had been raised within the last few days. “A decision had to be made quickly in the interest of the comfort and safety and ability of groups to participate in the parade,” he says, adding that he met with Justin Trottier, who made the original application to march in the parade, to explain the decision in person.

Representatives from CAFE are upset that their permit has been revoked. Eleanor Levine, a board member and spokesperson for the organization, says that they believe they have been misrepresented as an organization that hates women.

“We are not anti-women,” she says. “We are absolutely inclusive.”

She says CAFE will still be involved in WorldPride, even if they can’t march in the parade. The group claims they are hosting a Pride party in downtown Toronto June 28, though venue details have not yet been provided.

Pride Toronto sparked outrage in 2010 when it attempted to ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching in the parade. Though the group’s presence remains controversial to some, Pride Toronto eventually relented after furious community members pointed out the fallacy of censoring even unwelcome views in a parade founded on free expression.