The organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade have announced that, for the first time in the parade's 253-year history, it will allow LGBT organizations to march under their own banner.
“It’s about time,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue. As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me. Until then, parade organizers must be held accountable to ending this ban once and for all.”
In 2015, OUT@NBCUniversal, an employee LGBT organization for NBCUniversal employees, will be allowed to march. Organizers say that other LGBT organizations can apply to march in future years. NBC has broadcast the parade for the past several years.
Earlier this year, GLAAD called on the parade's sponsors to reconsider their support of the parade, which previously prohibited LGBT families and organizations from participating. Following GLAAD's outreach, Heineken and Guinness both dropped sponsorship of the parade due to the discriminatory ban. Additionally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march in the parade, citing the discriminatory practice.
Irish Queers, an LGBT organization that has been working for more than a decade to end the parade's ban on LGBT groups, sent a statement to GLAAD, speaking about the ongoing dedication to making the St. Patrick's Day Parade fully inclusive. "There are no new stories, only ongoing struggles. Irish queers continue in a long line of fighting for civil rights, justice and equality, and we will continue until we defeat the religious right attempt to hijack our communities and control our identities," the statement read. "The St. Patrick’s Day parade – the most public expression of the Irish community in America – is the right place exactly to stage our struggle."