LGBT Noise and the NXF have penned an open letter to the Taoiseach calling for him to pull out of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade to protest it’s exclusion of LGBT groups.
The letter, which is co-signed by a long list of public figures and civil society organisations, explains that the exclusion of LGBT community groups from the New York City parade is not in keeping with modern Irish values.
Max Krzyzanowski of LGBT Noise added, “This letter asks the Taoiseach to act in accordance with the noble sentiments he expressed when he said that he was a ‘Taoiseach for all the people’. By showing solidarity with our community, he can repudiate the notion that there is incompatibility between being Irish and openly LGBT.”
Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio announced last month that he would not take part in the annual parade, while Minister of Social Protection Joan Burton has also declined an invitation to attend the event.
The letter reads:
We the undersigned wish to express our strong concerns regarding your proposed participation in next week’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. By singling out openly LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) groups for exclusion from the parade, the organisers are sending out a message of discrimination and intolerance towards a section of the community and diaspora who deserve to have their contribution to the global Irish family celebrated and recognised on the same basis as everyone else.
It has been claimed, disingenuously, that because no group is allowed to display overtly political banners, the prohibition on LGBT people depicting any sign or symbol that would identify them as openly lesbian or gay is not discriminatory. This is a claim that our identities are inherently political, which is false. Our organisations are first and foremost about community and visibility, not any political beliefs. The many other groups who make up the Irish-American community are all allowed to march under banners identifying who they are so we are clearly being subjected to a discriminatory double standard.
You gave a very welcome personal vow last November to actively campaign for what you describe as the ‘equality issue of gay marriage’ in next year’s referendum. You are also on record as stating that you are “proud to stand here as a public representative, a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic but not a Catholic Taoiseach. A Taoiseach for all of the people, that’s my job”. These were crucially important statements about the kind of Ireland you envision. You have an opportunity to serve as an ambassador for these same modern and inclusive values, ones which are shared by the vast majority of Irish people, at home and abroad.
Therefore, we strongly urge you to decline to march in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York next week – an honourable stance adopted by the city’s Mayor, Bill De Blasio, and the New York City Council. The exclusionary policies of the organisers are completely at odds with the statements you have made around these issues. If, however, withdrawal at this stage is problematic, we ask that you wear the enclosed rainbow-flag lapel-pin as a sign of solidarity with the Irish and Irish-American LGBT communities.
Where we are banned from marching and representing ourselves, our organisations and our community, you can act as our representative, our “Taoiseach for all of the people”, and show New York, Ireland and the world the values of our proud, inclusive and modern Ireland, that draws strength from our traditions but has dispensed with the damaging prejudices of the past.
National LGBT Federation (NXF)
Gay Switchboard Ireland
INTO LGBT Teachers Group
Union Of Students In Ireland (USI)
BeLonG To Youth Services
LGBT Lawyers Association of Ireland
Trans Student Network Alliance
Action For Russia
Senator Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan
Senator David Norris
Senator Averil Power
Panti Bliss – Rory O’Neill
John Halligan TD
Clare Daly TD
Ailbhe Smyth, Feminist campaigner
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