Brit Couple Protests ’Gay Boys’ Jeers from Gov’t Workers
A gay couple in Britain says that government employees have subjected them to anti-gay harassment.
The Department for Work and Pensions is looking to claims by 23-year-old Steve Mellor and his same-sex partner, 28-year-old Roy Pearson. The couple says that before they disclosed their status as partners they never had any problems when they went to government-run Jobcenter; once they came out, however, they were taunted with anti-gay epithets from the staff. One slur hurled at the couple was the term "gay boys," they said. The couple also claimed that the job service was less helpful to them because of their sexual orientations.
At one point, they interacted with a Jobcenter staffer who told the couple that he had received special training that would enable him to "deal with" people like themselves.
"You don’t expect this in 2010," Pearson said, according to a Dec. 30 article at Express.co.uk.
Mellor had to stop working due to an illness; Pearson was also between jobs. The couple had been claiming jobless benefits since last month, but at one point when they went to Jobcenter to seek assistance, they were ridiculed by staffers who pointed at them and laughed, saying, "those two gay boys always come in for information," the article said.
"Jobcenter Plus is committed to treating all individuals fairly and equally regardless of their sexual orientation," a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told the media. "We are investigating."
In a case of harassment leveled at a trans person by a government employee, 23-year-ld Amber Yust filed suit against the California Department of Motor Vehicles earlier this month, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 10.
When Yust, a transwoman, filed paperwork for an updated driver’s license, the DMV employee with whom she interacted took a personal interest--and sent a letter to Yust’s home under her previous male name, telling her that she would go to Hell for her "very evil decision" to transition from man to woman.
"Although I helped you with the name change, I have to say I do not support the reason for it," the government worker allegedly wrote to Yust. "I also do not believe the state’s recognition of it--through official documents--makes it legitimate or any less evil."
Yust also received literature from a conservative Catholic organization. She speculates that the DMV worker improperly accessed her address from a state database. Yust’s Dec. 9 claim was filed a month and a half after the letter was allegedly sent by the DMV employee, and asserted a violation of privacy and of her civil rights; Yust asked for $25,000 in compensation.
"Going into a DMV isn’t exactly a fun experience," Yust told the Associated Press. "So to have someone who dislikes something about you or has some strange interest in you decide to use your personal information for something other than what it was supposed to is really scary."
A spokesperson for the California DMV confirmed that the department’s workers were not allowed to access personal information using the state database "unless it’s specific to the business at hand." The spokesperson also said that DMV employees had received sensitivity training for their interactions with transgendered people needing to update their identification.
"This is something we are taking very seriously," the spokesperson said.
Queerty reported on Dec. 19 that the DMV worker who had harassed Yust was named Thomas Demartini, and noted that Demartini had previously been cited and sent to sensitivity training after declining to help a trans person.
Demartini has been place on paid leave at the time of the incident, but resigned from the DMV on Dec. 15, reported Examiner.com. Yost sought a restraining order against Demartini the following day.
In his letter, Demartini called Yost an "abomination," the Examiner reported.