News & Politics

CHEERS: Guinness, Sam Adams and Heineken Boycott St. Paddy's Parades Over LGBT Exclusion

The barring of openly gay and lesbian marchers in large St. Patrick's Day parades has become a major political issue.

Photo Credit: Mark/Flickr

Guinness has pulled its sponsorship of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade over the exclusion of gay and lesbian groups.  The most famous Irish beer and a symbol of the holiday says it values diversity and LGBT equality.

“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 its owner. “As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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--Sam Adams and Heineken--also dropped their sponsorship of the parade, which begins today at around 11 in the morning. It is expected to draw thousands of people.

The protests by the beer companies add to the woes of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, which runs the New York parade.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is boycotting the parade over the refusal of the order to allow openly gay and lesbian marchers and groups to join in.  De Blasio has marched in other gay-friendly celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day.  But the mayor did not bar the police and fire departments from marching in their city uniforms, despite calls from LGBT activists and political allies to do so.

In Boston, the exclusion of LGBT groups from the parade has also become an issue.  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh skipped the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because he couldn’t strike a deal with the organizers to allow the activist group MassEquality to join in. Sam Adams and Heineken also pulled out of sponsoring the Boston parade.

The Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, will be marching in the New York parade.  “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," said Kenny.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.