Mayor stands with LGBT veterans who were denied place in St Patrick’s Day parade ‘because of homophobia’

An LGBT veterans group whose participation in Boston’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade was a historical first says it has been stopped from marching this year “because we are LGBTQ.”

OutVets, a New England-based organisation, broke down the barriers which had been in place against LGBT groups wanting to attend the annual event for decades.

In response, the city’s mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Boston Globe he would not march unless organisers reversed their decision, and called on other citizens to join him.

“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city,” Walsh said.

“I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”

The parade’s organising group, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, voted 9-4 on Tuesday to deny the group a place in the March 19 parade, AP reported.

In a message on its Facebook page, OutVets wrote that the council “did not give a clear reason, but, given the tenor of the Council’s deliberations, one can assume it’s because we are LGBTQ.

“This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community and for veterans of all backgrounds.

“OutVets has marched in this parade for two years without incident. Understanding the concern and controversy that surrounded our application, we followed the South Boston Allied War Veteran Council’s rules to the letter, each time.

“Our presence helped to break through the fog ill-will and discrimination that so distracted from the fine goals of this event – a community-hosted parade to honour all kinds of veterans.”

The message ended with a lament that “even after bringing honour to this parade, this community, and to all those who have served, we fight every day to be treated with the basic dignity that comes with service to country.”

Ed Flynn, a member of the council and veteran of the Navy, told AP he voted in favour of allowing OutVets to participate. He said he was “saddened and outraged” that the council had “voted to turn back the clock on equality.”

You can read the full statement from OutVets here: