People who are physically disabled often encounter challenges when visiting buildings that aren’t friendly to individuals with mobility impairments. However, one gay couple discovered those challenges can arise even if a patron indicates he or she does not require any special accommodations.
Nathan and Robert Gale are a gay couple from Scotland who tried to enter a gay bar called the Polo Lounge almost a year ago today in Glasgow. Robert has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Even though the couple explained there was no need for staff members at the gay bar to provide disabled facilities, they were still not allowed to enter.
Yesterday, the Glasgow Sheriff Court decided that the company responsible for running the bar had unlawfully discriminated against the couple. Because of that, the Gale’s will receive compensation.
Speaking after the ruling, the gay couple discussed how they were happy with how things turned out, because it will send an undeniable message to other businesses, reminding them how discriminating against a person because of his or her disability is illegal. The couple is also hopeful that this incident will encourage businesses to revisit their current policies to ensure they are in compliance with the laws and are as welcoming as possible to disabled patrons.
The timing of the discrimination from the gay bar was also particularly unfortunate because it occurred just after the couple had attended a gathering celebrating charitable efforts that focus on equality. Both the men are very active in charities that support equal marriage rights for gay people.
It’s important to realize that apparently the case of the disabled discrimination was an isolated incident. The gay-friendly venue has since responded with a statement clarifying how Robert has been a patron of the bar for many years and received assistance from staff members during previous visits. The statement also mentioned how the gay couple are still welcome to visit the club, and that the relevant staff members who refused to let the couple enter have been given appropriate training.
In an article from Pink News about the case, Tim Hopkins, the director of the Equality Network said, “We welcome this important judgement, 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.” Russell Bradley, the lawyer who represented the gay couple, had similar thoughts about the ruling, saying it will encourage other businesses to be in compliance with laws.
[Image Credit: Third Force News]