Gay customer awarded £7,500 for locksmith worker’s homophobic gestures

A locksmith has been ordered to pay £7,500 compensation to a man who suffered homophobic abuse from one of the shop’s employees.

When the claimant “Tim” (not his real name) asked for a refund, the shop assistant began to abuse him, blowing him “a sarcastic kiss” at him as he left the shop – implying he was homosexual.

The shop assistant followed this up with repeated mocking homophobic gestures on around 20 further occasions. These took place in public, when Tim was passing the shop and the locksmith worker was outside on a cigarette break.

The claimant said the abuse was highly embarrassing for him and it only stopped when he issued an Equality Act claim in the county court.

After the hearing, Tim said he was delighted with the judgment: “I issued this case to prevent future incidences of discrimination and/or homophobia occurring. I will be absolutely chuffed if this case prevents one person from carrying out a homophobic act in the future.”

Douglas Johnson, solicitor at Unity Law which represented Tim, said: “There are very few cases brought in the courts of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Just by issuing his claim, Tim made the abuse stop and we are pleased he was awarded a significant sum of damages.”

Barrister Catherine Casserley, who conducted the trial, said: “So far as I am aware, this was the first case of discrimination by a service provider, where all the acts of discrimination were gestures not words.”

She added that the case shows the Equality Act can protect people against discrimination that occurs even after they stop being customers.

The case follows other Equality Act cases in goods and services where organisations have been fined for discriminatory treatment of customers. These include Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd and others, which became known as the “gay cake case”, and two cases where B&B owners have refused to allow gay customers to share a double room: Bull and another v Hall and another and Black and another v Wilkinson.

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