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Guinness cancels sponsorship of NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade over gay ban

Sunday, March 16, 2014
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NEW YORK — Guinness announced Sunday it is cancelling its sponsorship of Monday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City because event organizers refuse to allow gay participants to carry signs expressing their LGBT pride.

Guinness“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 statement released by GLAAD.

“As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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.”

The announcement comes just hours after New York’s historic Stonewall Inn, site of the Stonewall riots of 1969 and widely considered to be the single most important event leading to the modern gay rights movement, said it would no longer sell Guinness beer if the company maintained its sponsorship of the parade.

“Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated,” said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis.

“Hopefully, as parade organizers realize that anti-LGBT discrimination is not supported by sponsors, or many Irish New Yorkers, they’ll see that families like mine should be part of the celebration,” said Ellis.

Shortly after Guinness’ announcement, Stonewall Inn confirmed it would continue serving Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.

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On Friday, Heineken announced it had pulled its sponsorship of Monday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City because of the ban on pride banners. “We believe in equality for all,” a Heineken USA spokeswoman said.

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio will become the first mayor in decades to sit out the traditional parade on Monday because of the ban.

A similar scenario has played out in Boston, where Mayor Martin Walsh skipped Sunday’s parade because organizers refused to let allow a gay veterans group to displaying a banner identifying that they are gay. In addition to Walsh’s boycott, Sam Adams beer also yanked its sponsorship of the Boston event.

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