IQ and LGBT groups to NYPD Commissioner: pull out of anti-gay parade!

Irish Queers sent a letter to NY's Police Commissioner Ray Kelly today, calling for a withdrawal of uniformed NYPD contingents from the homophobic NYC St. Patrick's Day parade.

Joining IQ in the letter were ACT UP-NY, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Metropolitan Community Church of NY, the NY Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, OUTlaw (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law), Queerocracy and SALGA-NYC, Serving the Desi Queer Community and the LGBT Advisory Committee to the New York City Police Department.

Here's the letter, with plain text below.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly
New York City Police Department
1 Police Plaza, New York, NY 10007
By fax to: 646-610-5865
By email to: pc.office@nypd.org

March 15, 2011

Dear Commissioner Kelly:

On September 22, 2010 your office received a letter from Irish Queers expressing our serious concerns presented to the LGBT community regarding the NYPD’s continued involvement in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, and requesting a timely response. No response has yet been received.

The explicit homophobic message of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is of great concern to members of the LGBT community. There is a long history of clashes between police and individuals protesting LGBT exclusion from the parade. These incidents reflect ongoing problems of homophobic police departmental culture – including, at times, directly threatening or violent messages – visited on LGBT people by officers in environments where police control physical or cultural space. They also reflect ongoing concerns that police are willing to treat homophobia in immigrant and religious community spaces as “normal” or “acceptable,” and are therefore unavailable to LGBT people in those zones. These issues, of course, are compounded by the many other vulnerable identities carried by LGBT people, as immigrants, people of color, survivors of violence and more.

The violent impact of homophobia on LGBT people has rarely been clearer than in recent months. Rampant LGBT suicides driven by homophobia, and gay-bashings whose perpetrators are driven and supported by widespread anti-gay messages, make clear what the LGBT community already knows: expressions of disregard for LGBT people, whether hateful and violent or “merely” dehumanizing and marginalizing, directly affect our safety. Such expressions by the NYPD have an outsized impact, given the public and official nature of police expressions, and the direct relationship of police to public safety.

We insist the NYPD immediately stop its participation in the NYC St. Patrick’s Parade and any other such explicitly anti-gay event, and provide the LGBT community a response on this matter.

Specifically, we urgently ask that you halt any official NYPD role in organizing contingents and disallow uniformed NYPD representatives from marching in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade as long as the parade bears a message of such discrimination. For over twenty years parade organizers have officially excluded gays from marching, maintaining in the courts and in public statements to press that the parade is a religious and anti-gay happening. The LGBT community does not associate the event with a celebration of cultural heritage or pride. The parade is widely considered a homophobic event throughout the LGBT community New York City.

In recent years, New York City and the NYPD have taken steps ostensibly intended to counter their turbulent history with the LGBT community, and safeguard LGBT rights. Some of these include a NYPD LGBT Community Liaison to enhance communications and trust with the LGBT community, and a Hate Crimes Task Force and Hotline. In 2009, as part of its Rainbow Pilgrimage Campaign, New York City advertised itself as a vibrant gay and lesbian-friendly travel destination. The City’s newest campaign is its 2010 “Love Love, Hate Hate” campaign, “designed to apply to all hate crimes, but drawing special attention to crimes against the LGBT community… Our DIVERSITY is our STRENGTH. When any New Yorker is attacked for who they are, what they believe, or whom they LOVE it is a crime against all of us. Keep our city strong. LOVE LOVE. HATE HATE.”

NYPD participation in the anti-gay St. Patrick’s Day Parade directly contravenes the City’s position on improving LGBT policing and safety

We look forward to your prompt response and action.


Irish Queers //Gaby Cryan, Contact

ACT UP - NY // John Riley, Contact

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club // Allen Roskoff, President

Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn // Tom Burrows, Co-President

LGBT Advisory Committee to the NYPD // Andy Velez, Planning Committee Chair

Metropolitan Community Church // Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Pastor

New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) // Pauline Park, Chair

OUTlaw (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law) // Tristan Blaine, Chair

Queerocracy // Cassidy Garder, Contact

SALGA-NYC, Serving the Desi Queer Community // Aneesa Sen, Support Co-Chair