IRVING, United States (AP):
Faced with intense pressure from two flanks, the Boy Scouts of America said yesterday it needed more time for consultations before deciding whether to move away from its divisive policy of excluding gays as scouts or adult leaders.
Possible changes in the policy, such as a proposal to allow sponsors of local troops to decide for themselves on gay membership, will not be voted on until the organisation's annual meeting in May, the national executive board said at the conclusion of closed-door deliberations.
As the board met over three days at a hotel in Irving, near Dallas, it became clear that the proposed change would be unacceptable to large numbers of Scouting families and advocacy groups on the left and right. Gay-rights supporters said no Scout units should be allowed to exclude gays, while some conservatives, including religious leaders whose churches sponsor troops, warned of mass defections if the ban were eased.
"In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public," said the BSA's national spokesman, Deron Smith. "It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organisation."