Thursday 25 December 2014

Gay group gets green light to join NY parade

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

A GAY group is to be allowed to march in New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade for the first time ever next year.
A GAY group is to be allowed to march in New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade for the first time ever next year.
Members of the New York City Fire Department march at St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York

A gay group is to be allowed to march in New York's St Patrick's Day parade for the first time next year.

Major US network NBC, the long-time broadcaster of the event, threatened to boycott the parade if a deal to include gay groups could not be brokered.

Organisers of the parade said they were lifting the ban on LGBT groups that had caused so much debate, protest and legal battles.

Gay employees of NBC will march under their own banner next year, after moves were made to defuse the controversy surrounding the exclusion of gay groups from the parade.

Earlier this year, Guinness withdrew its sponsorship of the parade in protest at the exclusion of gay groups. Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio also refused to march this year.

St Patrick's Day parades in other cities have been embroiled in turmoil over the issue.

In Boston, Sam Adams Beer pulled its sponsorship because organisers exclude gay groups and Irish-American mayor Martin Walsh refused to march.

The New York parade committee yesterday said that OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support group at the TV company, would march along Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on March 17 under an identifying banner.

Craig Robinson, executive vice-president and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal, said the group had applied to march, but there was no immediate word on why they were chosen. It is unconfirmed if any other gay groups will take part.

The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, will act as the Grand Marshal.

While he said the parade would continue to have his support, he stopped short of welcoming the participation of the LGBT community.

"Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organisers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage."

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) here said that the announcement was very positive and demonstrated Ireland's diversity.

GLEN's director of workplace diversity Davin Roche said: "In Ireland we have been able to celebrate our Irishness as gay, transsexual and transgender people. In that respect I think it is more a case of the NY parade catching up with our own spirit of equality."

He said that the fact that the group of people marching were employed in the same organisation was also significant.

"It shows that it is much more difficult for organisations to exclude people for their sexual orientation or gender identity. It shows the huge support that exists in political, commercial and diplomatic quarters to support LGBT."

Irish Independent

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