Jun 18, 2014

Equality = Equality

                On June 11, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland, Nathan and Robert Gale won a discrimination lawsuit against the Polo Lounge, a local gay bar. Robert has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and when they arrived at the bar on June 13, 2013, they were told by management that the bar didn’t have disabled facilities. When Robert explained that they didn’t need disabled facilities, management continued to deny the couple entry. Nathan and Robert have both worked for equality charities in Scotland. They were at the Polo Lounge to celebrate after the 2013 Scottish Charity Awards as guests of the Equality network, a Scottish LGBT equality charity.
                Almost exactly a year after the incident at the Polo Lounge and taking the owners of the bar to court, Nathan and Robert Gale won their case, receiving £2,000 in compensation. According to PinkNews, Nathan and Robert spoke after the ruling and said, “We are delighted with the result which sends a clear message to businesses across Scotland that disability discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated, just as we would not accept discrimination on the basis of race or sexuality. We hope this ruling will encourage companies to review their policies to ensure they comply with the law and provide the welcoming environment that their disabled customers deserve.” They also said that it was ironic and depressing to face discrimination at a gay venue on the night they had received an award for a major equality campaign. Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network also spoke after the
hearing, “We welcome this important judgment, which sends out a clear message that businesses must not discriminate, whether on grounds of disability or on any other grounds, such as sexual orientation or gender identity. This case shows that people can use the courts to stand up against discrimination and win.”
                One of my previous articles was about seeing life from the perspective of a disabled gay man, and what Robert and Nathan faced is one of many things that can create rifts in planning, or with other members of the LGBT community. This is the first instance of this type of discrimination I’ve seen published, but it probably isn’t the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last. People make mistakes, they have lapses in judgment. Some of those mistakes and bad judgment calls might end in a lawsuit; this was one of those times. The whole purpose of mistakes is to learn from them and to improve our actions so we don’t make the same mistake again.
                Scotland, England, the United States and many other countries have an opportunity to learn a lesson from this ruling. Discrimination comes in all shapes, sizes and colors; saying that a certain group doesn’t discriminate is like the pot calling the kettle black, we’ve all done it at some point or another in our lives. It’s common for the LGBT community to cry out when there’s discrimination against it, but what about when we discriminate against our own? It doesn’t make us any better than the last guy that did it.
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