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Pro-Palestinian protesters say Toronto Pride Parade stopped over refusal to meet demands

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A newly formed group of protesters called the Coalition Against Pinkwashing says the decision to interrupt Canada’s largest Pride Parade was made after Pride Toronto refused a special meeting over demands put together by Queers for Palestine, which called on Pride Toronto to divest from corporations with ties to Israel.

The protest Sunday interrupted groups in the parade on Yonge Street and led organizers to cancel the event about an hour early, forcing at least 67 floats and groups of people to stop marching without finishing the route. In all, the parade had 272 groups taking part.

“There is no pride in genocide,” exclaimed Gary Kinsman at a press conference Monday. Kinsman, who recently resigned as a member of Pride Toronto, was a founding member of Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day Committee in 1981.

He said the decision to protest the Pride Parade came after a meeting was requested with Pride Toronto to discuss demands from Queers for Palestine, which requested the organization divest from corporations with ties to Israel.

“We had 19 members, 10 ex-members, hundreds from the community to have this special meeting and they ... refused,” he said. “They are an antidemocratic and non-responsible, non-accountable organization.”

Protesters said they’re disappointed the parade was cut short, but they were forced to interfere to highlight and educate people about the number of Palestinians dying in the nearly nine-month-long war.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have died in the war, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. The war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, according to the Israeli government.

“It is utterly shameful that Pride Toronto has turned into a spectacle that glamourizes the very corporations and governments that are oppressing and discriminating against us,” said Layla Salman.

Pride Toronto’s executive director, Kojo Modeste said a written response was given to groups who wanted the meeting over Palestinian demands, but they didn’t accept it.

He said the decision to shut down the parade was made for the safety of everyone and in the best interest of the community.

“When I speak to my colleagues around the world that are leading Prides, they have had several meetings and the disruptions still happen, I cannot say yes or no this would have happened but I can say Pride Toronto made one of the strongest statements across all Prides about where we stand in relation to the war in Gaza,” he said.

“It was really horrifying," said Estella Nash, a Lesbian who took part in the parade alongside Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow Monday in the Village.

“It was a lot of work to do and honestly it was sad, it was really sad for all of us. There are a lot of other times and places to protest and we get one little tiny weekend a year to show everybody and there’s people who fly to come to Toronto for these events and to have something shut us down, it’s not the best situation," she said.

“It is disappointing to see something that everyone is looking forward the whole year interrupted,” said another man who took part in Pride events. “On the other hand, there’s like a crisis going on the world and there should be more of a push to increase awareness of it.”

Protesters said they would rather see a smaller grassroots Pride Parade, which remove the corporate supporters, than a large parade with ties it can’t support. 

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