US: New York St Patrick’s Day parade ends ban on gay groups

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade will allow gay groups to march next year for the first time.

The annual event – which attracts over a million tourists each year – does not allow openly gay group to march.

This year’s parade faced a large commercial boycott over the exclusion of LGBT groups.

A statement today announced that that OUT@NBCUniversal, the LGBT group of TV network NBC – which broadcasts the march – will be permitted to march next year.

Organisers voted unanimously in favour of allowing the group to march, which they claim is a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

Craig Robinson of NBCUniversal said: “We welcome the parade committee’s decision to accept OUT@NBCUniversal’s application to march and enthusiastically embrace the gesture of inclusion.

“Our employees, families and friends look forward to joining in this time-honored celebration of Irish culture and heritage.

“Organizers have diligently worked to keep politics—of any kind—out of the Parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event.

“Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the Parade. This grand cultural gem has become a target for politicization that it neither seeks nor wants because some groups could join the march but not march with their own banner.

“This change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics as it moves into its 253rd year, all the while remaining loyal to church teachings and the principles that have guided the parade committee for so many decades.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who boycotted this years’s parade, said: “What we do know is it’s a step forward. This is progress. What I’ve called for for a long time is an inclusive parade. This is a city of inclusion.”

However, when asked whether he would commit to marching next year, he added: “I need to know more before I can tell you how we’re going to handle something six months from now.”

GLAAD President Sarak Kate Ellis said: “It’s about time. Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue.

“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.”