Irish brewer Guinness announced on Sunday that it was pulling its sponsorship of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. According to Reuters the Dublin based brewing company made the decision because event organizers have excluded gay and lesbian groups from marching in the parade.
"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade," the company said in a written statement. "As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”
Two other beer companies have made similar moves recently. Heineken had already pulled its support from the New York parade and Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Company pulled its sponsorship from the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade over the same issue.
Fox News reports that the brewing companies won’t be the only traditional participants who will be conspicuously absent from Monday’s parade. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has also announced he won’t be marching due to the dispute. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — the city’s first Irish-American mayor in 20 years — sat out his city’s parade on Sunday.
Gay groups are not explicitly excluded from the New York event but they are not allowed to carry banners identifying themselves as gay. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the organizers of the parade, have not commented on the controversy.
In New York, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny drew criticism for his decision to participate.
"The St. Patrick's Day parade (in New York) is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it,” he said earlier in the week, responding to critics.
Gay-rights activists had announced plans to dump Guinness from the roof of the famous Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village in protest over the exclusion of gay-advocacy groups and Guinness’ decision to continue sponsorship. That protest has been cancelled following the announcement by the brewing company that they won’t be sponsoring the event. The Stonewall Inn is considered by many to be the birthplace of the gay-rights movement.
“It’s amazing how the times are changing,” Carmine Tzavis, a Stonewall bartender, told the New York Post. “Thirty years ago, gay people had to hide in fear, and now look what we can accomplish.’’