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LGBT Groups Rally for Better Representation in NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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With its hundreds of events that draw more than 50 million visitors from all parts of the globe every year, New York City is by far one of the most diverse places in the world. People of all races, religions and sexual orientations call New York City home.

And in a historic move to reflect the city’s diversity, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade allowed an LGBT group to openly march for the first time in its 254-year history, marking the end of a decades-long ban on these groups.

Yet many LGBT groups and activists felt the inclusion of just one group wasn’t enough, and still translated to discrimination and exclusion of their community.

According to a March 17 article from the UK Guardian, OUT@NBCUniversal, the resource group for LGBT and straight ally employees at NBCUniversal, the event’s broadcaster, marched alongside some 300 other marching units in front of tens of thousands.

At the same time, a group called The Irish Queers protested Tuesday’s parade, claiming OUT@Universal’s parade presence wasn’t inclusive enough.

“The parade continues to marginalize and shame Irish LGBTQ people,” the group said in a statement. “We hope that next year’s parade will finally see the end of discrimination — and that corporations and others who say they support inclusion will work with the Irish LGBTQ community, rather than through backroom deals.”

New York City St. Patrick’s Day parades have traditionally excluded LGBT groups due to the strong Roman Catholic opposition to homosexuality — the parade itself is steeped in the Catholic tradition, with a cardinal from the Church even marshaling this year’s event, USA Today reports.

The issue of allowing LGBT groups to march in the parade came to a head last year, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would boycott all future parades until all groups could march regardless of gender or sexuality.

De Blasio agreed that this year’s parade was not inclusive enough, and he is continuing his boycott until more LGBT groups are allowed to march.

“The mayor hopes more progress can be made soon, and the parade will be more inclusive in the future, and if that happens he will be happy to participate. But until then, he will continue to decline to march,” de Blasio’s office said in a statement.

Boston made similar progress with its own St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year, where it allowed two LGBT groups to march for the first time in its history.