A gay rights group in New York will protest at the traditional St Patrick’s Day Parade today.

The group, Irish Queers, plans to disrupt the parade, which excludes members of the LGBT community on the grounds that it is a religious event.

“We’re sick of hearing city officials say they can’t intercede in the homophobia because it’s a religious march,” said Tierney Gleason of Irish Queers.

“If it’s a religious anti-gay parade, and uniformed cops and firefighters have to be pulled out.

“It can’t be both privately religious and publicly Irish.”

Today’s St Patrick’s Day parade will be the 247th in the New York’s history.

The parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organisation.

In 1991 it was legally redefined by the NYC Parade Committee, meaning that organisers could ban gay groups.

The parade is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day events in the world.

In 2006 more than 150,000 marchers took part in the procession and around 2 million spectators watched on from the streets.

Christine Quinn, the openly gay New York City Council speaker, last year boycotted the event in favour of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day.

She tried, unsuccessfully, to broker a deal with the organisers to allow gay and lesbian participation.

Quinn, a potential candidate for the Mayor of New York City in 2009, is still hopeful that LGBT Irish-Americans will one day march.