Queen of Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day parade slams US gay bans

Queen of Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day parade slams US gay bans

THE star of the first-ever gay-themed entry at Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day parade last weekend has hit out at similar marches in the US calling them “ridiculous” for banning gay groups from attending.

Dublin native Luke McCaul, in his guise as Miss Peaches Queen, led an entry at last Sunday’s parade named ‘na daoine álainn’, meaning ‘the beautiful people’ in Gaelic.

Featuring not only himself, but also his mum, dad, aunt and sister as “lunatic leprechauns,” McCaul said he felt “very special and very honoured,” to be part of the parade.

“The reception from the crowd was just lovely with lots of cheering,” he said.

“I felt very proud to be able to express myself and my sexuality and have my family walking alongside me, supporting me.”

McCaul dismissed the arguments of St Patrick’s Day parade organisers in the US, who said open displays of homosexuality would not be tolerated: “It’s a ridiculous idea and I don’t know why it’s still an issue. People should be able be able to live their own lives.”

The most high-profile tussle took place in Boston where a group of LGBTI military veterans applied to march in the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

The Boston parade organisers approved the application but on the proviso any mention of homosexuality was covered up.

This was a compromise too far for LGBTI group MassEquality: “We fought too long and too hard to be able to serve our country openly to retreat back into the closet in order to march in a parade.”

Parade organisers, the Allied War Veteran’s Council, subsequently refused the group’s application on the grounds it was “a clear violation of our ‘no sexual orientation’ rule,” and in order to “insure [sic] the enjoyment and public safety of our spectators.”

A similar ban occurred in New York where the parade, which celebrates Irish culture and history, regularly attracts one million spectators.

New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, did not attend his city’s parade on Monday.

“I simply disagree with the organisers in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” he said.

Meanwhile beer brands Heineken and Guinness also pulled their support for the parades.

John Roper, president of Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, told the Star Observer that US organisers needed to be more inclusive.

“Discriminating against any group on the basis of their sexual orientation has no place in a modern society,” he said.

“The New York and Boston parades should take a leaf out of Sydney’s book. It’s time they were brought dragging and screaming into the 21st century.

“Our parade takes place in one of the most tolerant and progressive communities in the world. This progressiveness is reflected in our parade.”

Roper also welcomed the McCaul’s entry: “We’re really enthused to have our first ever LGBTI group marching in the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

“LGBTI people are as much a part of our community as any other group and we welcome them to celebrate their Irish heritage.”

(Image:  Miss Peaches Queen at Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day parade. Supplied photo.)



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