PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release
Contact: Emmaia Gelman (917) 517-3627
Date: March 14, 2014
LGBTQ Groups & Policing Groups Will Protest NYPD Contingents in Discriminatory St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Parade Committee claims “private, religious” exemption from NYC anti-discrimination ruling -- but City agencies don’t have “free speech right” to bypass anti-bias rules.
Pre-protest press conference: Monday 3/17, 10:30am (30 mins before parade). Between 56th & 57th Sts, west side of Fifth Ave.
New York – LGBTQ groups and allies plan to protest the large contingents of uniformed New York City police and firefighters marching in the antigay NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade this Monday, March 17. The parade’s unwavering homophobia has led Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to formally join the long-standing boycott this year.
Organizations will include Irish Queers, the Anti-Violence Project, Queer Nation, New Alternatives for LGBT Youth, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Brooklyn Lambda Independent Democrats, VOCAL-NY, JFREJ Campaign for Police Accountability, and others.
“The homophobic bigotry of this parade is reaffirmed each year by the organizers. The NYPD’s insistence on sending huge uniformed contingents every year, makes it clear that the rights of our communities don’t concern them. Commissioner Bratton hasn’t even acknowledged the community’s outrage. If the NYPD and the City refuses to uphold their own anti-bias rules, how can we trust police officers with our safety?” said JF Mulligan of Irish Queers.
The NYC Human Rights Commission found that the parade, as a public event, could not discriminate against LGBTQ people. However, a federal court granted parade organizers’ claim that the parade is not public, but actually a “private, religious procession.” Parade organizers say allowing gay Irish groups to march, or allowing individual marchers to identify themselves as LGBTQ, would contradict Catholic doctrine that opposes homosexuality.
The parade controversy has heated up this year with the Mayor’s announcement that he would boycott, with battles over draconian religious anti-gay legislation in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi and Missouri.
“At a time when we are horrified by laws in Arizona and elsewhere that would deny public services to LGBTQ people, it’s particularly ironic that NYC would allow its police and firefighters to march in a parade that’s so notoriously homophobic,” said Alan Levine, attorney for Irish Queers.
“The parade organizers claim a right to discriminate, in private, in order to get around the Human Rights Commission’s anti-discrimination ruling. If the NYPD – a public agency – now claims its own ‘free speech right’ to join in that private, religious discrimination, we’re on a dangerous path that feels a lot like Arizona’s,” said Mulligan.
Irish ministers are also boycotting the Fifth Avenue parade, with the exception of the conservative Irish taoiseach (prime minister). The government has been bitterly split over his decision to attend. A coalition of Ireland’s top political parties, including the taoiseach’s own party, have published a video condemning the parade and refuting its connection to Irish culture. LGBTQ groups have published a letter calling on him to boycott. Web links follow.
For more information: http://irishqueers.blogspot.com
“In St. Pat’s Dispute, Free Speech is Not the Issue” Gay City News, 3/5/14
“New York mayor out of step with St Patrick's Day march over anti-gay ban: Bill de Blasio is the first New York mayor for 21 years to boycott the St Patrick's Day parade over its ban on gay participants – but is he doing enough?” The Guardian, 3/8/14
“Why the Taoiseach should not join the St Patrick’s Day parade
Opinion: Our Irishness is pluralist and non-sectarian”, Irish Times, 3/11/14
“New York St. Patrick’s parade no place for my child” IrishCentral.com, 3/12/14
“Irish parliamentarians support St Pats for All” 2/28/14
“Dear Enda” - Irish LGBTQ groups call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to boycott or break antigay parade rules.