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Gay Irish New Yorkers Denounce KKK Comparison


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Gay Irish New Yorkers Denounce KKK Comparison

by Beth Shapiro, 365Gay.com New York Bureau

March 17, 2006 - 12:00 pm ET

(New York City) Members of an Irish LGBT group stood on the sidelines of today's St. Patrick's Day Parade denouncing the chair of the parade committee for comparing gays to the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and prostitutes.

The Lesbian and Gay Organization was kept behind police barricades as the parade marched down Fifth Avenue this morning.

More than a decade ago a federal judge ruled that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which organizes the parade, could bar the gay group on the grounds of religious freedom.

In an interview with the Irish Times published on Friday Hibernian chair John Dunleavy said, "If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow Neo-Nazis into their parade? If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?"

Dunleavy went on to tell the paper that "People have rights. If we let the ILGO in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?"

Asked about his comments at the beginning of today's parade, Dunleavy tried to avoid the issue.

"Today is St. Patrick's Day. We celebrate our faith and heritage. Everything else is secondary," he told reporters.

In a statement the Lesbian and Gay Organization denounced Dunleavy's remarks and politicians who took part in today's parade, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Like queers in other NYC immigrant populations – Indian, Pakistani, Polish, Puerto Rican and others – Irish Queers have been forced to struggle for respect not only with our own community, but with the NYPD, courts and city officials who shore up the forces of anti-gay discrimination," the statement said.

"Many others have stood with us for justice, boycotted the parade or simply stayed away. But although active support from politicians, non-Irish LGBT folk and Irish American groups may rise and subside, Irish Queers – who live each day with the specter of religious-inspired bigotry in our home spaces – continue to demand a respectful place in the important, symbolic St. Patrick’s Day parade."

Among those who refused to march today was City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a lesbian and the second highest ranking city official next to Bloomberg.

Asked about Dunleavy's comments to The Irish Times Quinn said ""I don't even think they dignify a response."

"I can't deny who I am on any given day," Quinn, who was arrested in 1999 for protesting at an exclusionary parade in the Bronx told the Associated Press.

©365Gay.com 2006

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