St. Patrick’s Day parades face criticism for LGBT exclusion

St. Patrick’s Day: a holiday of revelry, music, color…and discrimination? That’s how it seems for LGBT groups wishing to participate in annual parades in Boston and New York City.

Parade organizers in the two cities have forbidden marchers from carrying pro-gay signs or identifying themselves as LGBT. This decision created a lot of backlash among gay rights groups, and beyond.

Gay rights protestors at parade

Mayoral boycott

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided not to attend Monday’s parade out of protest for organizers’ “exclusion of some individuals in this city.”

Mayor de Blasio said he would be participating in other events “to honor the Irish heritage in this city and the contributions of Irish-Americans.”

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh did not attend his city’s parade Sunday after talks attempting to allow a gay group to march failed.

Beer companies pull sponsorship

Guinness announced it was dropping sponsorship of the parade the day before. The beer giant released the following statement:

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 As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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

Heineken also pulled their financial support for the New York City parade, citing their belief in “equality for all.”

In Boston, Beer company Sam Adams dropped their sponsorship after a popular gay bar threatened to stop serving their product.

“We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade,” said a spokesperson for Sam Adams. “But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.”

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