May 23, 2011

Another group facing denial: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

The Center is using "procedure" and delays to deny space to yet another queer political group that it apparently finds uncomfortable. Queers for an Open LGBT Center supports the right of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to use our community space for queer organizing.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid made a standard request for space on May 10th to organize the group's participation in upcoming Pride events. Space requests are supposed to take 2-3 days to approve.  So when QAIA didn't hear back from the Center in three days, its representative called the Center to ask what was up.

He was told they'd get an answer "next week." When the answer still didn't come, he called again. This time the Center staffer asked him to answer some questions about the group "to move the request forward." The Center's email from May 17th:
[Center:] As I said last week, I assure you, your request is under review, and we will get back to you this week. As you might imagine, June scheduling and the Pride season is very busy. To move along the process I do have a couple of initial questions: is this group stand alone or is there a sponsoring organization or affiliation? Do you plan to meet bi-weekly through the Pride season and then conclude?
QAIA answered the Center's unusual questions on the same day. On May 19th, QAIA sent this email asking for a response to the space request.
[QAIA:] As you know, we've now been waiting 9 days for a room request that's supposed to take just 2-3 days. You responded last week that the request was being reviewed and we would hear back this week.
We have provided all the usual information, and then quickly answered additional questions you said were needed to move the request forward. We need to hear back from you now in order to plan. As with other groups, meeting space is key to our ability to bring queer community members around issues important to us, as is the a reasonable turnaround time for space requests.
If the Center is going to approve the request, we need to know without further delay. If not, the Center should be straightforward about denying it, and explain why.
On May 20th, QAIA got a phone call from a Center staffer, saying:
"I don't have an answer for you."
"This is a difficult decision."
"We don't have clarity on process and are concerned about the process."
"This is going to the Board next week. We are fully engaged."
"The big issue is the name of your group."
"I will call you Tuesday when I will have a good idea about when a decision will be made by the Board."
Pride events start in less than two weeks. The Center's delays have already stretched for two weeks, and the Center's best promise is that on May 24th, QAIA would find out on when in the future it might get a decision.

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