Activists: NBC Group Should Skip St. Patrick’s Parade If Other LGBT Groups Not OK’d To March

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Irish gay activists are calling for an LGBT group invited to march in New York’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade to boycott the event unless other gay groups are also allowed to participate.

Last week, organizers of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade announced they are ending a ban and allowing OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT resource group at the company that broadcasts the parade, to march under its own banner.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, members of a group called Irish Queers held a news conference Tuesday on the steps of the New York City Public Library in Midtown to announce that they are applying for a spot in the 2015 parade. Then they dropped their application into a mailbox.

Irish Queers’ Gabby Cryan said inviting OUT@NBCUniversal is just a corporate publicity stunt to bring back sponsors, including Guinness and Heineken beers, who boycotted the parade over the ban.

“This is not a policy change,” Cryan said. “This is a token gesture. This is not actually including the Irish lesbian and gay, queer community in New York City.”

Emmaia Gelman said the organizers never included other gay groups in the dialogue before making their decision.

“We call on OUT@NBCUniversal not to be pawns in this triangulation of homophobia, money and public relations,” said Gelman, also a member of Irish Queers.

Parade organizers have said groups can apply to participate in the 2016 parade. But activists say that’s what they’ve been told since the 1990s.

“They say we are able to apply to march in 2016, and we remember this,” John Francis Mulligan of Irish Queers told 1010 WINS. “This is the same playbook that they used in 1993, when they said ‘apply to march,’ and then there’s a waiting list. It went to the courts and there was no waiting list, and those lies were brought to the forefront then. And they’re doing the same thing again.

“Every other group has the right to a banner except the LGBT group, and that’s just pure bigotry and we know that,” Mulligan added. “So it’s not that we want something different. We want exactly what everyone else has.”

The activists said they would also ask Mayor Bill de Blasio to again sit out the Fifth Avenue parade. This year, the mayor did not participate, citing the organizers’ refusal to allow participants to carry gay-pride signs. De Blasio told 1010 WINS last week he has yet to commit to walking in the 2015 parade.

The City Council also didn’t have an official presence at the parade this year.

Parade spokesman Bill O’Reilly says the 2015 parade is full.

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