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Group wins right to use its name in Pride Parade

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid can now use their contentious name in Pride events, thanks to an about-face by the Pride board his week.

With help from prominent community members, Toronto's Pride Week committee voted it will no longer bar the use of "certain language" from the events, including the parade, a restriction that included the term "Israeli Apartheid."

Instead, it is requiring everyone to read, sign and agree to abide by the City of Toronto's Declaration of a Non-Discrimination Policy.

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"All groups that uphold this policy are welcome to participate in the 2010 Pride Parade," the committee said in a press release.

The proposal is meant to calm tensions in the gay community that mounted in the past month after efforts to wipe the Israeli-Apartheid issue from Pride events were vehemently fought. The committee said it barred the term Israeli-Apartheid after members of the community complained and the city said the phrase went against many city policies.

Allegations of censorship, however, caused them to reconsider. They passed two motions this week -one that puts the responsibility for determining a violation of city policy back in the hands of the city and a second that establishes a panel of members of the LGBT community that will recommend and build a decision-making framework for future festivals.

"We are extremely grateful to the community leaders that took the time to work on this proposal and help us examine ways to resolve this impasse," said Pride senior co-chair Genevieve D'Iorio. "The board's intention has always been to make the best decision possible to ensure the success of Pride and we believe that this proposal is a really constructive way forward."

QuAIA applauded the move on Wednesday.

"We're thrilled and overjoyed," said Elle Flanders, a spokesperson for QuAIA. "We feel this is a victory for the Palestinian rights [community]to finally not be bullied by the pro-Israel lobby."

She accepts the committees compromise to have everyone read and sign the non-discrimination policy and said there has never been any evidence that the term Israeli Apartheid contravenes any city policy.

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With a vow that their voices would not be silenced, QuAIA had hatched plans to get around the ban.

Now they're no longer necessary, said Ms. Flanders, adding that the board's compromise signals an end to the battle.

"I think that Pride has finally understood, they've listened to their community."

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