A bisexual pageant queen in New York has been banned from appearing in a local St Patrick's Day parade, reviving discrimination controversies that have plagued the city's celebrations after LGBT+ groups were notoriously blocked from participating.
The night that Miss Staten Island Madison L'Insalata came out to The New York Post on Saturday, parade organisers in the borough alerted the pageant director that the 23-year-old was forbidden from the parade, citing "safety" concerns, the paper reported.
Parade organisers have rejected the participation of the borough's LGBT+ groups for several years following similar bans throughout the city. New York City's St Patrick's Day parade dropped its longtime ban in 2014, leaving Staten Island as the last-remaining borough with a discriminatory ban in place for its parade.
This year was no exception for Staten Island's LGBT+ community. The director of the Pride Center of Staten Island says that parade organisers told her it will not allow gay groups after she attempted to sign up to participate.
Also banned from this weekend's event were Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen, 17-year-old Victoria Montouri. Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen Angelica Mroczek and Miss Richmond County Gabrielle Ryan had already boycotted the parade because of its restriction on LGBT+ people.
Several other local officials boycotted this year's parade and have called for more inclusive festivities in future events.
Ms L'Insalata told the New York Post that she was shocked by the organisers' decision to ban her from the parade, saying that it was "definitely a curveball".
She added: "I was really looking forward to being there and having a discussion and now there won't be. It's sad this had to happen. I thought I was doing something good ... You want to be part of the change."
Dozens of St Patrick's Day events throughout the city celebrate parade-goers' Irish heritage and recognise the patron saint of both Ireland and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
The annual Manhattan parade is the city's largest, with roughly 150,000 marchers and two million spectators converging on the 17 March event.
Despite more progressive and compassionate views from the Vatican towards gay people – and in Ireland itself, which has allowed same-sex marriage since 2015 – organisers have relied on their religious objection to exclude LGBT+ people who also wish to celebrate their heritage or the city or boroughs they represent, and have criticised organisers for using their religion as a weapon to single out groups of people from the citywide celebrations.