LGBT veterans celebrate being allowed to march in St Patrick’s Day parade

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A LGBT veterans group has said it will march in Boston’s St Patrick’s Day parade after saying it had been barred from doing so.

The Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts had both said they wouldn’t march in the city’s St Patricks’ day parade after a gay veterans group was banned.

OutVets last week on Facebook said they were excluded from the South Boston parade on 19 March.

Writing on the social media site, the group said: “While the reason for our denial is unclear, one can only assume it’s because we are LGBTQ”.

The ban came as a surprise as OutVets has been allowed to march in the parade for the past two years, and say they did so with the rainbow banner.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organises the St Patrick’s Day event, voted 9-4 to exclude the group on Tuesday, apparently based on OutVets’ decision to carry a rainbow flag.

The organisers last week also denied banning the group from marching, instead saying they failed to turn in their application in time.

After an emergency meeting on Friday by the organisers, OutVets has said they will march in the parade.

They also refused to stop carrying a rainbow banner.

“We are not gay veterans. We are veterans who happen to be part of the LGBT community,” OutVets boss Bryan Bishop said.

“I feel it’s a true testament to Boston wanting to be an inclusive city,” Bishop added.

“They wanted to send an important powerful message that we treat everyone with respect and dignity,” Allied Veterans Council member Ed Flynn had said.

Marty Walsh, the Mayor of Boston said in a statement last week: “I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city. I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”

Governor Charlie Baker added that he would not march if the group is excluded.

He said: “Veterans’ groups should be allowed to march in the parade. If veterans’ groups aren’t allowed to march in that parade, I will probably do something else. I won’t march.

The decision to ban the group has been widely condemned, including by Congressman Seth Moulton who said the decision was “outrageous”.

Moulton said: “Let’s just be clear, these are men and women who courageously put their lives on the line for our country.”

OutVets had previously been excluded by the Allied War Veterans Council, but was allowed to march in 2015, after Mayor Walsh threatened to boycott the event.

After the decision was reversed in 2014, the LGBT+ veterans group was allowed to march in 2015 and 2016.

It is unclear why they have been again excluded this year.

The city of Boston last year joined the likes of San Francisco and New York City in stopping its workers from travelling to the state of North Carolina over the state’s anti-LGBT ‘bathroom’ law.