LGBT group cancels conference reception with Israeli activists

The National LGBTQ Task Force has cancelled a reception at its upcoming conference that was to have featured two advocates from Israel. Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak at the reception that was to have taken place at the Creating Change Conference in Chicago on Friday.

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A Wider Bridge, an organization that describes its mission as building “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” sponsored the reception. 

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The National LGBTQ Task Force cancelled the reception less than a week after it announced a panel at the Creating Change Conference that was to have included officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would no longer take place because of “concerns from our community.”

A Wider Bridge Deputy Director Tyler Gregory told the Washington Blade on Sunday that Sue Hyde, director of the Creating Change Conference, on Jan. 14 called Laurie Grauer, his organization’s Midwest manager. “Sue recommended we either cancel A Wider Bridge’s event, or ensure that our event speakers condemn the Israeli government in their remarks,” Gregory told the Blade.

Gregory told the Blade that Hyde called himself and A Wider Bridge Executive Director Arthur Slepian “to inform us the event was cancelled, citing ‘safety and security concerns.’” Gregory said the National LGBTQ Task Force provided his organization with “no evidence” that backed up their claims.

Gregory said the National LGBTQ Task Force told his organization that the decision to cancel the reception “was final.” He told the Blade that Hyde did not provide A Wider Bridge the names of those he described as “Israel detractors.”

Read the full story on the Washington Blade