Gay group backs down on Israeli apartheid party

A US gay advocacy group has cancelled plans to allow pro-Palestinian campaigners to host a "Smash Israeli Apartheid" party at its New York headquarters.

The event was due to take place at the city’s LGBT community centre as part of international “Israeli Apartheid Week” at the beginning of March.

But following a campaign by prominent Jewish gay activist Michael Lucas, who condemned it as “a fundraising and awareness party for antisemites”, the centre said it no longer considered the event appropriate.

Mr Lucas, who said when he first heard the idea he had thought it was a joke, had called for the centre’s financial backers to boycott it in response to the “inexcusable decision”.

He said: "Israel is the only country in the Middle East that supports gay rights, while its enemies round up, torture, and condemn gay people to death - often by publicly hanging or stoning them to death."

He added: "If the LGBT Centre wants to host [this] they might as well go all the way and host a tea dance for [notorious anti-gay campaigner] Fred Phelps."

Glennda Testone, executive director of the centre, said: “We have determined that this event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT centre, which is a safe haven for LGBT groups and individuals.

“The host group will no longer meet at the centre.”

Last updated: 5:31pm, March 1 2011