Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

NY Gay Center Will Allow Israel-Related Events

A New York gay community center announced February 15 that it had lifted a moratorium on events relating to Israel days after coming under heavy criticism for barring a prominent gay scholar from speaking about her new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The decision, announced at 4:50 PM on a Friday leading into a three-day weekend, lifts a two-year ban on events relating to Israel at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, a key gay communal institution in New York.

In an emailed statement, the Center announced that the “the moratorium is no longer in effect.”

The Center’s policy barring Israel-related events came under renewed scrutiny on February 13 following a report in the Gay City News that the organization had declined to allow a speech by Sarah Schulman, a professor at The City University of New York. Schulman was set to talk on her new book, “Israel/Palestine and the Queer International.”

Schulman praised the Center’s reversal in an e-mail to the Forward. “The community showed their heartfelt belief in open expression and caring for each other, proving yet again that our common value is social justice,” she wrote.

Elected officials responded immediately to the announced end of the moratorium. A statement signed by City Council Speaker and Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and other gay elected officials praised the new guidelines, but condemned claims of “pinkwashing” — the allegation that Israel uses the equality it offers gays to distract from its treatment of the Palestinians. Schulman wrote a widely read column backing the “pinkwashing” theory in the New York Times.

“Their decision to allow groups to have open discussion and to create a resolution process to address complaints of potential hate-related speech is the correct approach,” the officials wrote. “We vehemently oppose the absurd accusations by some groups that Irsael is engaged in so-called pinkwashing. We find this cause offensive and fundamentally detrimental to the global cause of LGBT equality.”

The moratorium on Israel-related events was instituted in February 2011, following a controversy at the Center over an activist group’s plans to rent space for an Israel Apartheid Week event. At the time, prominent gay porn producer Michael Lucas threatened to organize a boycott of the Center by donors if the event was allowed to go forward.

In response efforts by Lucas and others, the Center announced it would no longer allow any Israel-related events to be held in its space. That policy formally ended on February 15 of this year.

In an e-mail sent an hour after the announcement of the new policy, Lucas said that he would not organize against the decision, but called on others to cut donations to the Center. “I would advise people to stop donating to the center and believe the city should stop funding an organization whose original mission of helping gay people has changed to providing a platform to anti-israeli hate groups,” Lucas wrote. “The LGBT Center of New York City is now officially hurting innocent men, women, children, the elderly and Holocaust survivors that live in Israel.”

In its announcement of its new policy, the Center outlined a process for filing complaints about events held in its spaces. “Going forward, if members of the community feel that hate speech or bigotry has occurred at the Center, they are encouraged to submit a formal complaint in writing,” the announcement read.

A spokesperson for the Center said that she could provide no further comment. She also said that no decision had been reached on the Schulman reading.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.