This year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be lead by two LGBT groups, Out@NBC-Universal and Lavender and Green Alliance. The development comes after New York borough, Staten Island’s St Patrick’s Parade banned LGBTs from marching under their own banners.
LGBT groups have been allowed to march in the main NYC Parade since 2015. This comes after a long fight by LGBT activists to be included, having been excluded by parade organisers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
From the beginning of his tenure in 1993, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee, John Dunleavy was fiercely opposed to gay groups marching in the parade. LGBT activists who marched under their own banners, many of them having traveled from Ireland to do so, were repeatedly arrested.
In 2014, with LGBT groups and their allies threatening to boycott parade sponsors, the Guinness company said it would pull support if LGBT groups couldn’t march. Dutch company Heineken followed suit.
However, when broadcasting giant, NBC, listened to its LGBT employees in the OUT@NBCUniversal group, the network exerted pressure on the parade’s organisers, and in 2015 the group became the first sanctioned LGBT group to march in the parade under its own banner.
In June 2015, Dunleavy vowed to bar gay groups from the 2016 parade. “The parade itself is not there to promote anybody’s particular agenda in any way, shape or form,” he said, adding it “represents our faith, our heritage and our culture, nothing more and nothing less. So, we’re going to keep to that, and anybody who wants to mix that up is going to have a problem next year.”
A month later, Dunleavy resigned his position as chairman.
A parade spokesman told Church Militant, who queried the inclusion of LGBT groups in the parade, that it has become a non-issue.
“That’s pretty much disappeared,” he said. “No one’s brought it up, there’s been no comment, no media references. You’re the first one who’s asked that question.”
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