New York, NY, United States (4E) – Organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade have lifted a 21-year ban on gay participants and gay group banners in the world’s largest parade in honor of the patron saint of Ireland.
Gay groups will be free to apply as participants to the March 17 event that draws some 250,000 marchers every year, said New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. spokesman Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday.
The organizer, which won in 1993 a court battle to exclude a group of openly gay Irish-Americans from participating in the parade, said members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employee resource group called OUT@NBCUniversal would be marching up Fifth Avenue on March 17 under a banner identifying itself.
The Catholic League (CL), the largest Catholic civil rights organization in the U.S. founded in 1973, said the parade participants rules has been changed to allow LGBT groups to join.
“I have been assured that the rules have been formally changed to allow both of these groups, as well as others, to march under their own banner,” said CL president Bill Donohue on Wednesday. “That being the case, there should be no controversy.”
LGBT groups have been clamoring for the lifting of the ban since 1993 and the clamor intensified recently as same-sex marriage became legal in New York and other states.