More gay groups to apply for New York Paddy’s Day parade

‘I won’t say that it is possible that we would consider another group,’ say organisers

Gay Rights supporters protest against the exclusion of the gay community during the 252nd annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, March 2014. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/EPA

Gay Rights supporters protest against the exclusion of the gay community during the 252nd annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, March 2014. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/EPA

 

Three New York-based Irish-American gay groups intend to apply to participate in next year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan, creating another potential showdown with the event’s organisers, who last week said they would allow a gay group to march in the parade for the first time.

Irish Queers, Lavender and Green Alliance, and St Pat’s for All said they will publicly make applications to march in next year’s St Patrick’s Day parade, the biggest in the world, following the decision of the parade’s organising committee to accept an application from one gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group from US TV channel NBC.

John Lahey, vice chairman of the parade committee, last week played down the possibility of allowing other gay groups to march in next year’s parade, citing the pressure on the organisers to limit the number of marchers participating next year.

“I won’t say that it is possible that we would consider another group,” he told the Irish Times. “We are under pressure to shorten the parade — I would be surprised that we would.”

The groups said in a statement that the issues of openly gay groups being excluded from the parade, a controversy that led New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to boycott this year’s parade and Guinness to pull its sponsorship, would not be resolved until Irish gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups would be allowed to march in the parade.

Describing last week’s agreement between the organisers and the group from NBC, the parade’s corporate sponsor and broadcaster, as a “backroom deal”, the three groups said Irish gay interest organisations would “still be on the sidelines, not permitted to march and once again erased from the parade’s portrayal of the Irish American community.”

They were “fighting for inclusion now, not a vague possibility of being accepted in ‘future years,’” they said, referring to the pledge of organisers to consider applications from other groups beyond 2015.

The groups will hold a press conference today on the steps of the New York Public Library where many protests have taken place over the past two decades over the exclusion of openly gay participants.