Some of the world's biggest alcohol brands, including Guinness, refused to sponsor St Patrick's Day parades in New York and Boston.
Guinness announced Sunday evening that it would remove its sponsorship of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade because of the parade's discriminatory rule that prevents LGBT families and organizations from participating openly in the event.
“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,” a statement by brewer’s parent company, Diageo, reads. “We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”
Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would not march in the parade because gay and lesbian activists had been again precluded from taking part.
The loss of Guinness, one of the world's top beer brands, appeared to increase pressure on other sponsors to disassociate themselves from the parade.
A few days earlier, two more brewers dropped their sponsorship of St. Patrick’s parades over the gay rights issue: Heineken in New York and Sam Adams in Boston.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny had been called upon to boycott the parade, but marched with New York Gaelic Athletic Association members, and defended his decision to do so.
“Many of those people in the parade today are also members of the gay community and they are marching proudly in the St Patrick’s Day parade,” he said.
He noted that the Government had sent a representative to the alternative gay St Patrick’s Day parade in Queens, New York and was offering people the opportunity to vote for gay marriage next year.