Irish Ask: What’s the Big Deal About Letting Gays in St. Pat’s Parades?
As an Irish ex-patriot myself, and resident of the Boston area, when I discovered the actual truth of the extent of bigotry and racism in the Irish American community I was shocked. It was so far from the Ireland I know and love that I have been trying to understand what went wrong since…
David Norris, an Irish senator and former professor, has been at the center of the Irish gay rights movement for four decades. In fact, it was his lawsuit against the country in the European Court of Human Rights that resulted in the country’s 1993 decriminalization of homosexuality.
“I find it extraordinary that Irish Americans can be so far behind the actual inhabitants of the island of Ireland; that 10 years ago the gay float won first prize in our national St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Ireland was slow to see the march of gay rights, but much changed in the last two decades. With a yes vote in this year’s referendum on gay marriage considered a foregone conclusion, Ireland is drifting ever further from the Catholicism-dominated days of yore.
Mr. Norris sees the issue as being founded in a sectarian dispute. “As an Irish man who through my mother has direct descent from the ancient kings of Ossory, Leinster, and the High Kingship of Tara,” he says, “I find the claiming of the parade as an exclusively Roman Catholic festival - despite being originally founded in the US by exiled Irish Protestants - completely ridiculous,” he told the Monitor.