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Guinness Pulls Support for St. Patrick's Day Parade Over LGBT Issues

In protest of policies disallowing gay groups to openly participate in the St. Patrick's Day parade, Guinness will no longer sponsor the event.

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By Bryan Le

03/17/14

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Irish beer giant Guinness is pulling its support from New York City's annual St. Patrick's Day parade because event organizers have routinely disallowed LGBT groups from openly participating.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all,” an official company statement on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation site read. "We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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."

Guinness isn't the only big name pulling its support from St. Patrick's Day events over the issue. Samuel Adams, Heineken, and even New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh also announced they would not be participating in their respective city's celebrations. Guinness' absence leaves the Ford Motor Company as the only major U.S. company sponsoring New York's parade.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who will participate in New York City's parade, has defended the parade organizers' policy. "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." Gay groups are not barred from participating, say parade organizers, but simply not allowed to carry signs or otherwise identify themselves as LGBT.

Some LGBT groups intending to protest the parade planned to dump Guinness from the shelves of the Stonewall Inn, a historic gay landmark, but those plans were scrapped after Guinness' announcement on Sunday. 

“Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: Discrimination should never be celebrated,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of gay rights group Glaad.

Despite this controversy, the parade is expected to draw more than 1 million spectators and 200,000 participants. 

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