US & Canada

Boy Scouts of America vote to lift ban on gay leaders

Boy Scouts of America Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Boy Scouts have allowed openly gay boys to join since 2013

The Boy Scouts of America have voted to lift its ban on gay people serving as adult leaders in the organisation.

Religious groups including units run by the Catholic church and the Mormon church are exempt to the new policy.

The change, which was ratified 45-12 by the executive board, takes effect immediately and end years of criticism that the Boy Scouts discriminated against gay people.

In 2013, the Boy Scouts began allowing openly gay boys to become scouts.

"For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us," said the BSA's president, former Defence Secretary Robert Gates. "Now it's time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good."

Earlier this year, Mr Gates told the group's national meeting that the ban on gay adults needed to end, saying it was no longer sustainable and would make the group susceptible to lawsuits.

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Media captionPresident of the BSA Robert Gates: "For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us"

Major corporations had also suspended charitable donations to the Scouts because of the policy.

The selection of Mr Gates as president in 2014 was seen as an opportunity to revisit the policy since he helped end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred openly gay people from serving in the US military.

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