LGBT groups are calling for a boycott of Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade after they were barred from applying to march in the annual celebration.
“Any organization who has applied, rethink marching that day. Any organization who is thinking of applying, again, please rethink that decision,” said Carol Bullock, executive director of the Pride Center of Staten Island.
After years of boycotts and pressure, organizers of Manhattan’s iconic St. Patrick’s Day Parade finally began allowing LGBT groups to participate in 2015. And Staten Island is the only New York City borough with a St. Patrick’s Day parade that remains non-inclusive.
The Staten Island event is organized by the Ancient Order of Hiberians, an Irish Catholic fraternal order. Parade president Larry Cummings reportedly has said that allowing LGBT groups to march in St. Patrick’s Day parades “promotes the homosexual lifestyle” and “goes against the tenets of the Catholic Church.”
“Here’s the deal, it’s a non-sexual identification parade and that’s that. No, they are not marching,” Cummings told the Staten Island Advance this week.
Pressed about whether LGBT groups will be allowed to march in the future, Cummings said: “Don’t try to keep asking a million friggin’ questions, OK? The fact of the matter is that’s what it is, OK? And that’s that.”
When a contingent from the Pride Center arrived last weekend, they found a sign on the door saying parade signups had been moved “do [SIC] to the threat of a protest by the gay pride people/politicians/and minsters of other faiths on the holy grounds of Blessed Sacrament Church.”
They went to the alternate location, but were turned away by Cummings. In addition to the Pride Center, the Gay Officers Action League of New York (GOAL) was barred from applying.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and several other politicians have announced they will again skip the Staten Island parade in response to the LGBT ban. However, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York has declined to get involved, despite a plea from Bullock, saying such decisions are left up to local parade committees.
Watch a report from CBS New York below.