June 2, 2011

LGBT Center strikes again: another queer group banned.

The LGBT Center is amazing... they've done it again. They've completely given in to right-wing demands to cancel the meetings of anti-Occupation groups (and no other groups, btw.) This time they're saying it's just too hard to stand up for queers' right to organize, and it's impinging on their provision of "programming and services" -- as if queer organizing is marginal. What horrifyingly short memories.

The LGBT Community Center Calls a "Time Out" In Renting to Groups Organizing Around the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Thu, June 2 2011
Media Contact
Cindi Creager, Director of Communications & Marketing
(212) 620-7310, ccreager@gaycenter.org
New York, NY June 2, 2011 -- The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center today announced a moratorium, effective immediately, on renting space to groups that organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision comes after months of divisiveness, protest, and heated rhetoric regarding whether the Center should rent space to two groups organizing around these issues.
The Center has been forced to divert significant resources from its primary purpose of providing programming and services to instead navigating between opposing positions involving the Middle East conflict. The Center, which does not endorse the views of groups to whom it rents space and requires all groups to sign a non-discrimination pledge, has decided to implement this moratorium to allow a cooling off period.
“We must keep our focus squarely on providing life-changing and life-saving programs and services to the LGBTQ community in New York City,” said Executive Director Glennda Testone. “We respect those who are deeply passionate about these issues, and we respectfully ask that they take meetings outside of the Center. Make no mistake, everyone is welcome at the Center; but these particular organizing activities need to take place elsewhere.”
In February, the Center declined to rent space to a group called Siege Busters, a non-LGBT-focused group whose presence at the Center provoked controversy and diverted energy and resources away from the Center’s core mission. The Center subsequently agreed to rent space to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which conformed to the Center’s application guidelines and signed its non-discrimination agreement. But the ensuing controversy has again consumed significant time and resources and forced Center staff to negotiate issues of anti-Semitism in political expression – an area outside the Center’s expertise. For these reasons, the Center has adopted an indefinite moratorium.
“We have tried in good faith to weigh each space request while considering the deeply held beliefs of members of our community about these issues,” said Board President Mario Palumbo. “But we are first and foremost a community services center and need to ensure that all individuals in our community feel welcome to come through our doors and get what they need to live healthy, happy lives. This must be our priority.”

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