Organizers of Cincinnati’s St Patrick’s Day parade have banned a leading gay and lesbian group because their event is based around a Catholic feast day.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) believes it has been banned because parade bosses don’t want a gay and lesbian group affiliated with the Catholic event.

GLSEN, says they were told by organizer Chris Schulte, “It’s an Irish Catholic parade, and we don’t want any members of the gay and lesbian community to be affiliated."

The Huffington Post reports that city councilman Chris Seelbach told local media that he was informed that GLSEN could not participate in Saturday’s Parade because of the holiday’s Irish Catholic roots.

An anti-bullying organization, GLSEN seeks to eliminate prejudices based on sexual orientation and/or gender affiliation in schools by spreading education and awareness.

Seelbach told CityBeat: “I was floored when I heard the news. You know, the city helps fund this parade, and the city has made it very clear that we will not tolerate any kind of discrimination against gay people.”

In a statement, GLSEN’s Greater Cincinnati Co-chair Josh Wagoner said: “Everywhere we go, we encounter parents and youth who need our support. Our visible participation makes a difference.

“We are horrified by the message this sends to LGBT youth, who suffer constant bullying and discrimination, that they are not welcome in Cincinnati.”

The report adds that money sent in by members of the GLSEN Greater Cincinnati chapter - who had marched in last year’s parade - was returned and the group’s invitation was reneged.

Ohio’s WLWT has reported that GLSEN applied to participate in the parade before the deadline.

Seelbach has tweeted that other city representatives have since decided to opt out the parade because of the anti-gay stance.

He tweeted: “So far, Qualls, Young, Simpson, Sittenfeld, Moroski, Landsman & myself have w/drawn from your parade b/c of your antigay choice.”

GLSEN has also created an online petition in hopes of convincing the organizers to allow them to participate in the parade.

The report adds that a South Boston politician has tried to make the traditional parade more inclusive in her community in Massachusetts.

It says Massachusetts Senate candidate Maureen Dahill started a petition for an all-inclusive St. Paddy’s parade, that would include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the South Boston celebration.

Dahill said: “I am proud to be from South Boston. South Boston is a vibrant community. It’s time we showed our neighborhood in its true light and allowed gays and lesbian groups to march in the parade.”

The St Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Cincinnati.