Taoiseach urged to support Boston LGBT group

MassEquality calls on Kenny to make statement on their campaign to march with banners

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meeting US president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House yesterday. Photograph: Getty

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meeting US president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House yesterday. Photograph: Getty

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 08:00

A US gay rights group has urged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make a public statement during his visit to Boston tomorrow supporting their campaign to march openly with gay pride banners and colours in the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

MassEquality, the Boston advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people, said that comments by Mr Kenny supporting their campaign to end the long-time exclusion of LGBT groups from marching in the South Boston parade with gay pride signs and banners would help their campaign.

The group said that his statement would also help local political leaders who have publicly supported the LGBT community in their right to march as openly gay participants in tomorrow’s march, the second-largest Paddy’s Day parade in the United States.

“A strong statement of support from the Prime Minister would not only help the LGBT community but help our allies in politics who have supported us during the process,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, which has been fighting for gay rights for a decade.

Negotiations to allow LGBT participants to march in the South Boston parade, brokered by recently elected Boston mayor Marty Walsh, appeared to have failed.

Mr Walsh, the son of Connemara immigrants, had hoped to devise a compromise agreement that would let members of MassEquality, including LGBT war veterans, march behind a banner displaying just the name of their organisation.

The mayor was still hopeful yesterday an eleventh-hour compromise could be reached to allow members of the LGBT community to participate in the parade.

“I am going to make one more pitch at it and we’ll see what happens,” Mr Walsh said after a news conference yesterday.

MassEquality said a compromise deal supposedly offered by organisers earlier this month was subsequently revoked, even though the terms of that agreement were unacceptable to the group.

“We already rejected the conditions and we will not be marching,” said Ms Coredini.

Mr Kenny, who will meet Mr Walsh tomorrow, has already been drawn into the controversy over the exclusion of openly LGBT groups in Fifth Avenue parade in New York City on Monday.

The Taoiseach has said that he is “happy” to march in Manhattan parade because it is “about our Irishness, not sexuality”.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, whom the Taoiseach will meet on Monday, has said he will not participate in the Manhattan parade while gay groups are excluded.