Gay rights activists urge Taoiseach not to march in St Patrick’s Day parade
National Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Federation make plea to Enda Kenny
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: will not march in the St Patrick’s Day Parade.
Gay rights activists have urged the Taoiseach, members of the Garda and other Irish uniformed officials to follow the lead of New York city mayor Bill de Blasio by not marching in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan next month because the organisers prohibit public displays of gay pride in the march.
The National Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Federation asked the Taoiseach to reconsider his attendance at the parade.
The Irish State should “not in any way be providing legitimacy to such blatant discrimination by having Government representatives take part in this parade”, the group said.
The Irish Gay Rights Organisation said that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, organisers of the parade, project “a distorted view of ‘Irishness’ that is deeply offensive and completely at odds with the kind of inclusive values that the vast majority of Irish people wish to be associated with today”.
The group praised the decision of Tánaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore to skip a visit to Savannah, Georgia last year because it would have involved attending a men-only St Patrick’s Day dinner in the city.
The same approach should be taken at events excluding gay, lesbian and transgender people, it said.
Mr De Blasio said he would attend other events in the city on the day.
This is the first time in 20 years that a mayor of the city has not participated in the parade, which is attended by more than one million people.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who marched in last year’s Fifth Avenue parade along with members of the Garda, plans to attend this year’s event.
Minister for Social Protection and deputy Labour leader Joan Burton, who attended the parade two years ago, confirmed she would not attend this year, even though she would be in the city at the same time as the Taoiseach. She said she had hoped the parade would have become inclusive by now.
Ms Burton said she wouldn’t be going to the parade “until it is more fully inclusive”.
Asked if it was right for the Taoiseach to take part, she said that it was up to Mr Kenny to make his own arrangements.
Olivia McEvoy, chair of the National LGBT Federation, said it would be “inappropriate and wrong” for uniformed Garda members to march in the parade as it sends out “a hugely negative message to LGBT people” and damages efforts to establish police relations with the LGBT community.
A group representing gay and lesbian US police officers last week backed Mr De Blasio’s decision and called on the organisers to re-evaluate the decision to exclude banners and signs supporting gay pride.