Just before the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade was about to begin, Irish LGBT advocates spoke about the long history of exclusion of LGBT organizations from the parade, and the sudden change of heart of many corporate sponsors.
Irish Queers, one of the main organizers for inclusion in the parade, stated that they were encouraged that major sponsors have pulled out due to the exclusionary nature of the parade. Guinness, Heineken, and Sam Adams have all dropped sponsorship of the parades in New York City and Boston.
We are encouraged and happy that Heineken and Guinness have just dropped their sponsorship of the NYC St Patrick's Day parade because of the parade’s unapologetic homophobia. The hatred represented by this parade has gotten clearer and more untenable every year for more than two decades.
The organization is looking forward to the day when they can participate fully in the parade with no exclusions.
There’s pressure on other sponsors to do the right thing before next year’s parade. When sponsors finally stop paying for religious-right homophobia, the parade can go back to being Irish and including the rich diversity of the Irish American community.
That will be a day to celebrate, and we want to be clear that we won’t accept anything less. We’ll be challenging the homophobes who have hijacked our parade until Irish LGBT groups can march up Fifth Avenue behind a banner just like everyone else. Like our friends in Boston, we won’t be cutting any deals about leaving out words like “gay” or “lesbian” or “transgender.” We’ll join the parade as Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, without reservation. And we’ll insist that the parade be open to all of Ireland’s diversity, from religion to color to culture.
— Sonia Rincon (@SoniaRincon) March 17, 2014
Irish Queers also called on the New York Police Department, and Police Commissioner William Bratton to discontinue their support for the exclusionary parade.
Irish Queers is here protesting the NYPD’s participation in this bigoted parade. We’re joined by groups of people of color, homeless folks, and queer youth – just a few of the New York communities made unsafe by biased policing. Commissioner Bratton’s disregard for LGBT New Yorkers at this parade tells all of our communities that anti-discrimination laws won’t protect us from the NYPD. We may have a new Mayor who’s interested in reform, but his police commissioner is bringing ugly back.
We need the Mayor to require Commission Bratton to do better on respectful policing, before more damage is done. It would be sad and embarrassing if the LGBT community had to sue the City to uphold its own anti-discrimination law, but we will if we have to.
The group extended their greetings and support to LGBT Irish people around the globe.
We extend a special St. Patrick’s Day welcome to the queer community in Ireland, and the Irish government ministers and TDs who have firmly and publicly told the NYC parade organizers that homophobia isn’t Irish culture. Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Irish Queers.
GLAAD was on the ground at the press conference at the beginning of the parade, and will continue to work with Irish LGBT people and organizations to call for an end to the discrimination in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.