Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Queers Protesting Tomorrow's Discriminatory NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

Irish activists will protest against the decision by organizers of the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade to deny open LGBTQ participation

The world's largest St. Patrick's Day Parade, running along New York City's tony Fifth Avenue on Monday, includes over a quarter of a million marching participants, according the parade organiser's Web site. This year, amongst the millions, who will be watching the parade from the sidelines, will be members and allies of the group Irish Queers, who will be protesting the parade's record of discriminating against open LGBTQ participation.

Numerous elected officials from Ireland and New York are refusing to march in this year's parade, members of Irish Queers claim, because organizers of the parade discriminate against open LGBTQ participants. But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner, William Bratton, are allowing thousands of uniformed NYPD cops and firefighters to nevertheless march in their uniforms, which sends the wrong message to LGBTQ New Yorkers, especially those who are already at risk of being targeted for harassment by the police, according to the Facebook event for the Irish Queers protest.

LGBTQ activists and allies have called on Mayor de Blasio to ban the use of official city uniforms by, for example, police and firefighters who plan to march in the parade, but the mayor refused to acquiesce to their demands. Notwithstanding, Mayor de Blasio has said that he will not participate in tomorrow's parade. Since the parade is a private event, it is allowed to discriminate against determine who participates in its event. "The city, however, bound by its human rights law, does not have the right to lend its authority and stamp of approval to that discrimination. And it does have the right to determine when its workers can use their uniforms and other symbols of their employment in public settings," wrote Paul Schindler, the editor of Gay City News, in the LGBTQ's rebuttal to the mayor's denial.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a separate statement, informing the the LGBTQ community that she would not authorize an official City Council contingency in the discriminatory St. Patrick's Day Parade, but she would not ban City Council employees from participating. Last year, Speaker Mark-Viverito sparked controversy when she hired the lobbyist Scott Levenson to work on her speakership campaign. Mr. Levenson, and his lobbying firm, The Advance Group, worked for the City Action Coalition PAC, which lists 'traditional marriage' as its platform and supported opponents of gay City Council candidates. Questions were also raised by bloggers whether Mr. Levenson sabotaged LGBTQ civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland's political campaign ?

In contrast to the timid city officials, the large commercial beer brewer Heineken announced last week and the makers of Guinness announced today that they had withdrawn their support of the discriminatory St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.

Protesters are gathering at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow between 56th and 57th Streets on the westside of Fifth Avenue (basically, across the street from Tiffany & Co.).

RSVP for the protest here : Cops Out or Queers In ! Protest the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade ! (Facebook)

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