LGBT+ Pride group call on local businesses to boycott St Patrick's Day Parade in Staten Island

The Pride Center are urging local businesses to boycott St Patrick's Day Parade in Staten Island to show support for LGBT+ groups that were refused entry.

Two men playing bagpipes in St Patrick's Day Parade in Staten Island, while passing a pride flag with the words 'Boycott' on them

An LGBT+ group, the Pride Center, is calling on local businesses to boycott the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Staten Island after years of queer organisations being refused to march under their own banners. 

More than 50,000 spectators gather for the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Staten Island, which has been running for over 50 years. After the long-standing ban on queer groups was lifted in 2015, there were many hopeful organisations eager to join in on the celebrations alongside over 150 businesses and public service providers. However, LGBT+ organisations are still refused access to march under their own banners. 

In 2018, the Pride Center of Staten Island and the Lavender and Green Alliance were denied to participate in the Parade. It was reported  the groups were told their inclusion “promotes the homosexual lifestyle” and “goes against the tenets of the Catholic Church.”

The Pride Center of Staten Island has applied twice to march and both times, the annual organisers of the parade, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, denied them access. The Hibernian’s president, Larry Cummings, said, “Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture. It is not a political or sexual identification parade.”

Local politicians reacted to the news with outrage as they boycotted the St Patrick’s Day Parade. The district’s Democratic congressman, Max Rose, said, “I struggled with how to support our LGBTQ community while still honouring our Island’s rich Irish heritage, but for me, I cannot march while [The Pride Center of Staten Island] is still excluded.”

The Pride Center of Staten Island has now called on local businesses to follow suit and boycott the Parade. Executive director, Carol Bullock, told Spectrum News, “Any organisation who has applied, rethink marching that day. Any organisation who is thinking of applying, again, please rethink that decision.”

Sign-ups for the marching permits of this year’s Parade were moved to an alternative location. A notice outside the door of the original location reads, “Do to the threat of a protest by the gay pride people/politicians/and ministers of other faiths on the holy grounds of Blessed Sacrament Church the parade must move the parade sign-ups to 300 Manor Rd.”

Bullock reports that when she went to the new location she was told by Cummings that the march is a “non-sexual-identification parade” and refusing the group to march under their banner is “not discrimination.” In response to his comments, she said, “We just really didn’t get anywhere. He doesn’t believe that it’s discrimination; we clearly feel that it’s blatant discrimination.”

Gay Officers Action League of New York (GOAL) were also refused permission to march in this year’s Staten Ireland St Patrick’s Day Parade. The executive director of the group, Brian Downey, said, “LGBT people are welcome to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Ireland. I think it’s kind of a step backwards for our city.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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