Monday, April 23, 2012

Blatant discrimination

Another report of a Wellington business engaging in homophobic discrimination - this time the "Public" bar on Courtney Place:

A popular Wellington hotspot has come under fire online after a lesbian couple were allegedly asked to leave the bar after a staff member spotted them kissing.

Rebekah Galbraith wrote an open letter to the management of Public yesterday expressing her disgust at the actions of Public staff, stating that she is taking her story to the press and the Human Rights Commission.

In her letter, Rebekah says she and her partner were leaving Public on early Sunday morning, when she leaned over to “briefly kiss” her girlfriend; that’s when trouble started.

“A man abruptly tapped me on the shoulder and informed both of us to leave, immediately,” she says. “Considering I had seen this man constantly by the bar the entire evening, and given the speed at which he obviously moved to interrupt us and kick us out, I have no doubt he was watching us for the entire time we were at Public.

To point out the obvious, this is a violation of the Human Rights Act. Sexual orientation is a prohibited grounds of discrimination, and businesses cannot refuse access or to provide goods and services on that basis. That's been the law for almost twenty years now, and you'd expect it to have sunk in by now. Sadly, it hasn't. Which makes you wonder whether the current conciliation system is effective, or whether we should move to some actual criminal penalties for HRA violations, just to make it clear that its not acceptable.