New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center) since its opening in has rented out rooms and space to various groups including AA, NA, The Lesbian Avengers, SAGE, Immigrant Support Groups and other various social, political, and LGBT related groups to supplement it’s income. But now, The Center has just announced that it will no longer rent meeting spaces to to any groups that organize around Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Earlier this month The Center revoked a pro-Palestinian group called Siege Busters who arranged to rent meeting space for a pro-Palestinian fundraiser. The Center’s explanation was that Siege Busters was “not LGBT-focused” and that the event “began to distract from our core mission.” The decision itself created controversy within the gay community.
Roughly 150 people turned out to protest and voiced angry criticism of The Center for its decision to cancel Siege Busters fundraiser. The event would have provided money for a new flotilla to challenge the Israeli navy’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Said the executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Glennda Testone, on her blog on the center’s website this weekend
“The Center has faced growing criticism over its recent decision to rent space to a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. The heated rhetoric and passion surrounding this issue is echoing loudly through our corridors — and drowning out other voices within the community. An increasing number of center users, staff members, community partners, and supporters have expressed deep concern about the tone and volume of the debate. They’ve also questioned the center’s perceived role or position in these issues. The fact that the center does not endorse the views of groups meeting in the building has been ignored or flatly dismissed.”
Michael Lucas, a gay pornography producer and pro-Israel activist, had called for a boycott of
The Center before it’s decision. “Everyone who believes in the state of Israel, please stop any support for the Center,” Lucas said in a statement. “Please stop your financial support, please stop meeting there. Do not ally yourself with evil.”