Politicians boycott Staten Island St Patrick’s Day parade over LGBT exclusion
Several politicians have boycotted the Staten Island St Patrick’s Day Parade after an LGBT+ group was told they were not allowed to take part.
The Pride Center of Staten Island was blocked from participating in the parade again this year after they were first banned in 2011.
Some politicians responded by refusing to attend the event, according to The Irish Times.
Borough president James Oddo tweeted on Friday that he would not be marching in Staten Island’s St Patrick’s Day parade after the LGBT+ group was blocked from taking part again.
Oddo tweeted: “I wanted to, and thought I could reconcile my call for inclusion with still marching, but internally I cannot.
“No disrespect is intended towards anyone, including colleagues who will march,” he added.
Meanwhile, Democrat congressman Max Rose also refused to take part in the parade, saying: “I struggled with how to support our LGBTQ community while still honouring our Island’s rich Irish heritage, but for me I cannot march while the @pridecenterSI is still excluded.”
“I wanted to, and thought I could reconcile my call for inclusion with still marching, but internally I cannot.”
– James Oddo
The Pride Center also received support from New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who said it was “way past time” that the group be allowed to march in the parade.
The parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The group ignored a petition that had 1,700 signatures which called on them to allow the Pride Center of Staten Island to take part.
This is not the first time the group – or LGBT+ groups in general – have been excluded from St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York.
The main St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York had attracted much criticism for its ban on LGBT+ groups, however that ban was finally lifted in 2016.
The change came about after more than 20 years of campaigning from Irish-American LGBT+ groups and activists.
Allowing LGBT+ groups to participate in St Patrick’s Day parade was a landmark moment
Last year, Ireland’s openly gay Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar marched in the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade with his partner Matt.
It was hailed as a landmark moment for an event that had – just three years earlier – prohibited the participation of the LGBT+ community.
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“It was a real privilege to march with my partner. Only a few years ago people couldn’t march under the rainbow banner, but that has all changed.”
– Leo Varadkar
Speaking at the time, Mr Varadkar said: “It was a real privilege to march with my partner. Only a few years ago people couldn’t march under the rainbow banner, but that has all changed.
“Ireland has embraced diversity and inclusiveness, and Irish Americans in New York have embraced that too.”
In 2016, a number of LGBT+ groups helped to make history after they marched in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade for the first time.
The event attracts over a million tourists to the city each year.