Despite opposition from Christian groups and other sectors, the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow homosexuals to lead the youth organisation, which is one of the biggest in the United States.
All 17 members of the Boy Scouts' executive committee voted in favour of a resolution lifting its long-standing ban on openly homosexual troop leaders, and effectively amending the organisation's adult leadership standards policy.
"This resolution will allow chartered organisations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting's longstanding policy of chartered organisations selecting their leaders," the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.
The youth organisation said the decision to allow gay leaders is "a result of the rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels."
Despite this decision, the Boy Scouts of America said religious chartered organisations are still free to choose leaders based on their beliefs.
"This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organisations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own. The 2013 youth membership policy will not be affected and remains unchanged," the group said.
The Boy Scouts also maintained that the decision to allow gay leaders will not affect the various activities of the organisation.
"Scouting will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth to help them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve," the youth organisation said.
Earlier, the Christian group Family Research Council opposed the Boy Scouts of America's resolution allowing gay leaders, calling it illogical and unfair. The resolution will now go to the National Executive Board, which will conduct voting among its 80 members.