Irish Minister Slams NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s Anti-Gay Policy: ‘Exclusion Is Not An Irish Thing’

Today, New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade celebrates its 250th anniversary. But, the newly-minted Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore found the celebration at odds with “Irishness” because, for years, the parade has excluded the LGBT community. In a “first-of-its-kind meeting” yesterday with prominent New York Irish gay community leaders, Gilmore chided parade organizers for failing “to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it.” “Exclusion is not an Irish thing,” he said:

“What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness. I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland.”

“This issue of exclusion is not Irish, let’s be clear about it. Exclusion is not an Irish thing. … I think that’s the message that needs to be driven home.”

Backed by a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1995 that allowed the private sponsor of Boston’s parade to exclude gays from participating, the New York City St. Patrick’s day parade sponsors — the Ancient Order of Hibernians — has shut out the LGBT community for years by redefining the parade as a “private, religious procession.” Irish President Mary McAleese turned down an invitation to be the grand marshal of this year’s parade for this anti-gay stance. As an alternative, the gay Irish community has organized a “St. Pat’s for All parade” in Queens, NY since 2000, meant to be “open and welcoming to all who wish [to] share the spirit of the day.”