October 03, 2016 - 1:41 PM
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's official Opposition leader is criticizing efforts to oust a pro-Israel campaign from a Halifax Pride event, saying it's an "absurd injustice" for a group promoting LGBTQ rights to silence the province's Jewish community.
The vote set for the Halifax Pride Society's annual general meeting on Wednesday evening would remove the "Size doesn't matter" campaign materials from a fair booth hosted by the Atlantic Jewish Council.
The materials promote LGBTQ life in Israel and tourism to Tel Aviv.
The motion was brought forward by the group Queer Arabs of Halifax, and is supported by the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, a group that advocates for LGBTQ people across the province.
It is being actively opposed by the Atlantic Jewish Council and national Jewish groups.
Jamie Baillie, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives, says in a letter that he supports the state of Israel and will no longer participate in the parade if the resolution passes.
"It is hard to imagine a more absurd injustice than the thought of the Halifax Pride Society voting to suppress the views and opinions of another vibrant part of our local community," he wrote in a letter to Willem Blois, chair of Halifax Pride.
Morgan Manzer, a board member of Halifax Pride, said the elected board will not be taking a position on the resolution, though individual board members may give their views during the meeting.
He said members of the various groups for or against the motion can join the society on the evening of the meeting and participate in the vote, adding "anyone seeking to be a member must agree to uphold the values and missions of the society."
"Our mission as stated in our bylaws is very clear. It is to produce a Pride festival accessible to all and rewarding for all who participate, and that reflects the best of the LGBTQ culture here and throughout Nova Scotia," he said.
He said he's expecting a larger turnout than last year's 50-person meeting. "I would expect there would be a hundred people. Maybe more," he said.
In recent days, the various parties have been using social media to encourage people to attend the meeting, join the society and cast their votes on the resolution.
Emily Davidson, co-chair of the rainbow action project, says her group has been running a campaign this summer to support Queer Arabs of Halifax and to oppose the written materials being distributed at the community fare.
She says the materials amounted to "pinkwashing" because they allow Israel to promote itself as a LGBTQ-friendly nation where transsexual, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are welcomed as tourists.
She says the use of the materials isn't acceptable amidst international condemnations against Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians.
"It's limiting the ability of Queer Arabs of Halifax to participate in the festival in a positive way," she said.
The Atlantic Jewish Council is also calling for its members to attend the Halifax Pride meeting.
"The resolution would ban the Jewish community from highlighting Israel’s thriving LGBTQ community at the Halifax Pride celebration," says the council's Facebook posting.
The council says it will pay the optional membership fee to join Halifax Pride and will provide food and drinks before the event, as well as complimentary transportation, parking and childcare.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016