Saint Patrick's Day parade boycotted by Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh over exclusion of LGBT float

'So much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression' says Walsh

The Irish-American mayor of Boston boycotted the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday after organisers would not allow a group of LGBT campaigners to join the march.

Mayor Marty Walsh tried and failed to negotiate a deal with the conservative Allied War Veteran’s Council to allow members of MassEquality, one of the state of Massachusetts’s largest gay activist groups, to join the parade.

The Council argued that to do so would conflict with their Roman Catholic heritage.

“So much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression,” Walsh, the city's first Irish-American mayor in 20 years, said in a statement.

“As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city.

"Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible," he added.

Other prominent fellow Democratic Boston politicians, including Representative Stephen Lynch, did march in the parade, which drew tens of thousands of spectators.

Organisers of St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York, which like Boston is broadly liberal, have also been criticised in recent years for banning LGBT marchers.

People watch the annual St. Patrick's Day parade from a roof in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston. People watch the annual St. Patrick's Day parade from a roof in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston.

 New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would also not march in his city’s parade on Monday because LGBT activists had been precluded from taking part.

Representatives for the New York board of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, which has run the parade for more than 150 years, could not be reached for comment on Sunday afternoon.

Read more: Rupert Murdoch takes on the gay 'bullies' over Guinness boycott

Beer brand Guinness withdrew its sponsorship of the New York parade, while Boston Beer Co and Heineken did not back either parade over the issue. 

However, while MassEquality was not allowed to participate in the parade, South Boston resident Randy Foster and his husband Steve Martin were behind a diversity-themed float, but with no direct LGBT rights messages.

Boston Mayor-elect Martin Walsh boycotted his city's St. Patrick's Day parade after organisers did not allow an LGBT float. Boston Mayor-elect Martin Walsh boycotted his city's St. Patrick's Day parade after organisers did not allow an LGBT float. Foster said the rainbow flags that adorned the float represented the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Irish lore, but he acknowledged the flag is also associated with the LGBT rights movement.

“If there's a dual message to it, we're OK with it and so are the parade organizers,” said Foster, 48. “We made the point of not making it a gay float.

"If we're going to have a message of inclusion, it shouldn't be for one group," he said.

Read more: Chicago river turns green to mark Saint Patrick's Day
A public announcement for St. Patrick's Day: It's Paddy - not Patty
Saint Patrick's Day: Google Doodle celebrates patron saint of Ireland
Why is Guinness black - and other mysteries surrounding Ireland's favourite drink
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?