IQ asks NYPD to stop marching in anti-gay parade

PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release

Date: September 22, 2010

NYC’s anti-gay St. Pat’s Parade takes another hit: As Irish President McAleese refuses to lead parade, Irish-American LGBT groups asks NYPD’s Kelly to stop uniformed cops from marching.

New York – The NYC group Irish Queers today asked NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to pull uniformed police officers from the anti-gay St. Patrick’s Day parade. In a letter to the Commissioner, the group charges that police participation is an endorsement of homophobia and a violation of LGBT communities’ right to expect equal access to police services.

The Irish Queers request comes on the same day as news of Irish president Mary McAleese’s decision to skip the parade, viewed in Irish American political circles as a refusal to endorse the parade’s discriminatory message.

The St. Patrick’s parade organizers have asserted the right to exclude LGBT people on the grounds of free speech, and have repeatedly affirmed that the parade has an explicitly anti-gay message.

Each year, thousands of uniformed NYPD officers march in the parade, comprising more than a dozen contingents. Other city uniformed personnel marching in an official capacity include the Fire Department and Emergency Services.

Parade organizers have long touted the parade as “a private religious procession” as a basis for excluding LGBT Irish groups, but have counted on strong participation from the city and its representatives.