Friday, September 09, 2005

Are You Being Served -- or Slammed?

(Link) A Welsh branch of Stonewall is sending out queer mystery shoppers to uproot discrimination in the goods and services sector. How soon can we start this up in the States?

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Ben Townley, UK

Lesbian and gay people are being urged to act as “mystery shoppers” and test how they are treated by shops, restaurants and hotels.

The campaign, organised by the Welsh branch of Stonewall, is intended to highlight the problem of discrimination in the goods and services sector.

Entitled Give Us the Goods, the project will also increase the pressure on the government to introduce protection in the sector for lesbian and gay people.

At present, there is no legislation protecting gay people from refusals in hotels and restaurants, as well as the private sector, despite other minority groups receiving legal protection.

Campaigners had hoped new laws would see an end to a legal loophole but, despite assurances from the government, concrete proposals are yet to be drawn up.

Stonewall Cymru says the project will help tackle some of the issues facing lesbian and gay people using the private and public sector.

“Everyday LGB people in Wales avoid public spaces and places where they feel they can’t express themselves,” Stonewall Cymru, Director, Dr Alison Parken said in a statement today.

They often don’t get the services they need because they won’t tell the police, their doctor, teacher, youth worker, housing provider, parent or church leader about being lesbian or gay because they anticipate being badly treated.”

“Worse, if they do inform people that they are lesbian or gay and need service delivery to take that into account, often the response is ‘We don’t need to know that, we treat everyone the same,” she added.

Dr Parken said the charity had received some startling stories from lesbian and gay people, including the refusal of a smear test, a bank demanding HIV tests from a gay couple and a lesbian couple who were refused help by a housing authority, despite being harassed by their neighbours.

The profile of goods and services and the lack of protection was increased last year, when the owner of a Scottish B&B refused to allow a gay couple to stay in his lodgings.

He said their sexuality went against his religious beliefs, but was stripped from the Scottish tourist board’s official listings who said his attitude went against the ethos of Scottish tourism.

The issue garnered mainstream attention, with national newspapers covering the issue and the plight of lesbian and gay people facing similar obstacles every day.

“This isn’t equality,” said Dr. Parken about the current situation.

“It isn’t recognising LGB service needs and planning to provide services in an accessible or appropriate way.”

To take part in the mystery shopper campaign, visit