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Scottish Bus Driver Attempts Anti-Gay Boot

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A British bus driver went on a power trip this weekend after encountering two gay teens on his route. Steven Black and Mark Craig – aged sixteen and nineteen respectively – were riding late night last week when the driver pulled over and ordered them off because Craig had his arm around Black’s shoulder. Says Black:

The driver stopped at the side of the road and told us to get off. He told us he would not move the bus unless we got off or sat apart.

The driver said he was ‘not putting up with our shit’. He made us feel like complete freaks.

If we had been all over each other, I could understand – because that behavior in public is not appropriate whatever your sexuality. But Mark just had his arm around my shoulder.

I have never been so humiliated in my life. I just can’t believe we are still made to feel like second-class citizens.

The boys were forced to comply, for they had no other way to get home. Now that they’re safe and sound, however, they’re planning legal action. A representative for the Stagecoach bus company claims they’re taking the complaint “seriously,” but neglected to mention the company’s owner previously donated £500,000 in support of Clause 28, which banned “gay promotion” in schools.

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Nov 5, 2007
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 6 Comments
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      GLBT youth have a hard road to travel and few are spared the cruelty of bigots.

      I hope Steven and Mark find legal representation and go for a multi million Euro lawsuit against the bigots who did this. Those bigots include a totalitarian christian who campainged to keep the Conservative Section 28 on the books after it was repealed.

      If they sue and win they’ll send a powerful message, earn themselves a whole week of free smirks, and could even, if they so desired, help fund GLBT leagal services.

      Nov 5, 2007 at 1:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nick Henderson
      Nick Henderson

      In regards to this shocking story, I have emailed Stagecoach asking for an immediate public apology for the incident, and their response, although quick, is entirley unsatisfactory. I ask that you have a look at the email correspondance, then email Steven Stewart, Director of Corporate Communications, Stagecoach Group, demanding an immediate public apology to the couple in particular and the LGBT community in general.

      Steven.Stewart@stagecoachgroup.com

      you can also call him at 01738 642040 or fax him on 01738 443076
      ——————————————————————————————————————————-
      If you are stuck on what to say, then you could copy and paste the following, adding your own name:

      To: Steven.Stewart@stagecoachgroup.com

      I am writing in regards to the case of Steven Black and Mark Craig, a young couple who were sitting beside each other on a Stagecoach bus in Aberdeenshire on a route from Aberdeen to Oldmeldrum recently. The gay couple were at first told to get off the bus by the driver, and then forced to sit on separate seats.
      I am aware that according to your own internal investigations that you are 100% satisified that the driver acted in a professional manner at all times.

      I, however, am not at all satisifed with either the incident or your own response to it. I request that Stagecoch makes a full and immediate public apology on the matter to both the couple concerned at the LGBT community in general. It is totally unnacceptable that anyone should fear being thrown off a bus because of who they are.

      I await your reply.

      Yours sincerely

      ——————————————————————————————-
      5th November 2007 15:13
      PinkNews.co.uk staff writer

      Two gay teenagers from Scotland are considering legal action after being humiliated on a late-night bus journey.
      Steven Black, 16, and Mark Craig, 19, were told to get off the bus by the driver and then forced to sit in separate seats, according to the Sunday Mail.

      “If we had been all over each other, I could understand – because that behaviour in public is not appropriate whatever your sexuality. But Mark just had his arm around my shoulder,” Steven told the paper.

      “I have never been so humiliated in my life. I just can’t believe we are still made to feel like second-class citizens.”
      The couple chose to sit separately because they had no other way to get home.

      The bus route from Aberdeen to Old-meldrum, Aberdeenshire is operated by Stagecoach.

      A spokesman for the company told the Sunday Mail they will carry out a thorough investigation and discipline staff if necessary.
      The travel company is part-owned by one of Scotland’s most notorious opponents of gay equality, Brian Souter.

      In 2000 Mr Souter, an evangelical Christian, donated half a million pounds to a campaign in Scotland to uphold Section 28, which banned the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools.

      He cited his religious beliefs as justification for his actions, insisting he is not homophobic.
      Mr Souter is a member of the Church of the Nazarene, a Methodist denomination.

      The Stagecoach Group bus and train operating company is the second-largest in the UK with 16% of the bus market and 11% of the rail market.

      In 2000, he funded a “poll” of Scottish voters, sending out nearly four million ballot papers on the repeal of Section 28. The campaign failed in its objective.

      http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-5960.html
      also at:
      http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/news/newsfeed/…78057-20057975/

      ——————————————————————————————-
      Dear Sir/Madam, 5/11/07

      I am writing in regards to the case of Steven Black and Mark Craig, a young couple who were sitting beside each other on a Stagecoach bus in Aberdeenshire on a route from Aberdeen to Oldmeldrum recently. The gay couple were at first told to get off the bus by the driver, and then forced to sit on separate seats.

      As I am sure you are aware, this constitutes discrimination under the terms of the Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. I am aware that the two teenagers are considering legal action against Stagecoach.

      However unless the removal of gay people from your buses is company policy, I call on you in the strongest possible terms to issue an immediate public apology to the couple in particular and to Scotland’s LGBT community in general for this appalling situation.

      I look forward to your response.

      Yours sincerely,

      Nick Henderson,
      LGBT Spokesperson & Policy Co-ordinator,
      Scottish Socialist Party
      Mr Henderson,
      ——————————————————————————————-

      I refer to your recent e-mail.

      I would advise you that this incident has been fully investigated,
      including viewing footage of the journey in question.

      I cannot comment on the outcome of our investigation, other than to advise
      that, due to its content, the footage has been passed by the company to
      Grampian Police, who are investigating the conduct of those on the vehicle
      at the time of the alleged incident.

      The company has robust Equal Opportunities and Discrimination / Harassment
      Policies in place, and takes action whenever any of our staff are shown to
      have failed to follow these or to have acted inappropriately.

      Robert Andrew
      Regional Director
      Stagecoach Scotland
      Guthrie House
      Glenfield Industrial Estate
      Cowdenbeath
      Fife
      KY4 9HT
      Tel: 01383 511911
      Fax: 01383 516450
      Stagecoach Scotland Limited: Registered Office: 10 Dunkeld Road, Perth, PH1
      5TW
      (Registered in Scotland. No 97212)
      ——————————————————————————————-

      I have been passed a copy of your email to our East Scotland company regarding an alleged incident on a Stagecoach bus in Aberdeenshire. I am glad you have been in touch so I can set the record straight. Unfortunately, when newspapers run a story before unsubstantiated claims are fully investigated it can lead to misinformation and their readers not receiving the correct picture.

      Stagecoach is a well-respected company, with a strong commitment to diversity and we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are a responsible company and we have carried out a thorough investigation into this complaint. This has involved interviewing the driver and reviewing CCTV footage from the vehicle.

      It is clear that the driver warned two passengers about the nature of their behaviour following a complaint from a fellow passenger. We are 100% satisfied that the driver acted professionally at all times. The police have indicated they are satisfied with the driver’s account of the incident and are taking no action against him. We have also been happy to provide a copy of the CCTV footage to the police as part of their ongoing investigation.

      Full details of our Code of Business Conduct can be found online at:

      http://www.stagecoachgroup.com/scg/media/p…ons/policydocs/

      You will see from this document that we have a clear commitment to equal opportunities and diversity. We will not tolerate any discrimination either by one of our employees or against a member of our staff. It is disappointing that the news articles in question have given an entirely wrong impression of our company.

      Best regards

      Steven Stewart
      Director of Corporate Communications
      Stagecoach Group
      10 Dunkeld Road
      Perth
      PH1 5TW
      Phone: 01738 642040
      Fax: 01738 443076
      Mobile: 07764 774680
      e-mail: steven.stewart@stagecoachgroup.com
      ——————————————————————————————-
      Dear Mr Stewart,

      Thank you for your timely response, unfortunately however it is completely unsatisfactory.

      I refer you to what the young couple are quoted as saying in the Sunday Mail:

      “He told us he would not move the bus unless we got off or sat apart.
      “The driver said he was ‘not putting up with our s**t’. He made us feel like complete freaks.
      “If we had been all over each other, I could understand – because that behaviour in public is not appropriate whatever your sexuality. But Mark just had his arm around my shoulder.” http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/news/newsfeed/…78057-20057975/

      Your may be 100% satisfied with how the driver acted but the couple in question are obviously not, neither are many thousands of LGBT people across the country who rely on Stagecoach for their transport and do not wish to be harassed on their journey. I do not think that your company completely grasps the gravity of the situation.

      This story has reached around the world, and if, as you say, the nature of the couples behaviour warranted the driver to tell them to leave the bus or sit apart, then surely you would not hesitate to release the CCTV footage to ensure that Stagecoach’s well-respected images is maintained.

      However from the account that the couple has given, which has been reported by a multitude of well-respected news outlets, then the actions of the driver in following up a complaint from a passenger are both unacceptable and as it would seem, go against your own policies and procedures and warrant immediate disciplinary action to maintain the well-respected image that Stagecoach has.

      I again reiterate my request that a full and immediate public apology is issued to both the couple in question and the LGBT community in general.

      I look forward to your response before taking the matter further.

      Yours sincerely,

      Nick Henderson
      LGBT Spokesperson & Policy Co-ordinator,
      Scottish Socialist Party

      Nov 5, 2007 at 6:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nick Henderson
      Nick Henderson

      It is clear from this that Stagecoach are calling the young gay couple liars, as well as accusing the Sunday Mail of printing false information. However the police seem to be still making enquiries, yet Mr Stewart is happy to let the incident rest?

      Sounds like fobbing off to me.

      Keep sending those emails to Mr Stewart, they just want this to go away.

      Nick

      ——————————————————————————–
      To: hendersonn2704@hotmail.com
      CC: Robert.Andrew@stagecoachbus.com
      Subject: RE: YOUR FOLLOW-UP EMAIL
      From: Steven.Stewart@stagecoachgroup.com
      Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2007 09:41:28 +0000

      Thank you for your follow up email, which does not appear to allow a reply by return.

      I am afraid you are mistaken about the full circumstances of the incident. The issue was brought to the driver’s attention by a member of the public who expressed concerns – it was not prompted by the driver.

      From the Sunday Mail report it is clear they – and other media – were not aware of the full circumstances surrounding the alleged incident before they published their articles.

      We have acted entirely professionally throughout and the police, who are independent, have confirmed they are satisfied with the driver’s account of what happened. They are, of course, making further inquiries into this alleged incident and we are happy to let them do so.

      Best regards

      Steven Stewart
      Director of Corporate Communications
      Stagecoach Group
      10 Dunkeld Road
      Perth
      PH1 5TW
      Phone: 01738 642040
      Fax: 01738 443076
      Mobile: 07764 774680
      e-mail: steven.stewart@stagecoachgroup.com

      Nov 6, 2007 at 5:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay Master
      Jay Master

      A few points in relation to this from a UK perspective.

      1) Brian Souter was the top man at Stagecoach who offered money to support the campaign against the repeal of section 28 back in 2000. I am not sure if he is still at the company, but he has always been a vocal anti-gay campaigner.

      2) Whether it was the driver or a passenger who took offence we do have a law in England regarding not providing discrimination in the provision of services. This applies to lesbians and gay men and the implication, to me, is that ejecting someone from the bus due to sexuality is incompatible with this law. Of course, this may not apply in Scotland?

      3) Similarly, I can understand that an explicit sexual behaviour e.g. oral sex could certainly be offensive, whether the participants were gay or straight. However, in interview the two young men say they had an arm around each other and there was a peck on the cheek.

      4) Finally, the more interesting point, to me, is that two young men, 16 and 19, are willing to be interviewed about their relationship and apparently have no qualms about being open about their relationship. I am only 36, but I cannot imagine 20 years ago that I could have done this. The rise in the acceptance of gay relationships at a younger age is a massive achievement. When I was 16 it would have been very, very unusual to endorse/support/recognise this relationship. Maybe this is the most important factor to note? If only the US could catch up and ‘get over’ the religious/moralising/puritanical approach to sex and homosexuality.

      Nov 6, 2007 at 8:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sonny v.d Laars
      Sonny v.d Laars

      Well I did my best, i send a mail to the company as well. here is the mail, i wonder how the’ll respond.

      sorry if there are any typ errors. my english writing is not what it used to be :)

      Dear Mr. Stewart

      I Must express my deep concerns about the Company’s policy towards Discrimination.
      Concerning the Incident about the young homosexual couple who were almost booted out of the bus by the busdriver, this shocks me deeply, i have read many news reports now, and that gives me the impression that the busdriver acted in a way of discrimination.

      Something that a Public transport company must not allow to happen against there customers and fellow busdrivers, Altough the statement of your company mentions that a member of the public has brought the issue to the drivers attention, it does not give the busdriver a reason to respond so full of anger and disrespect!

      The prober reaction of the busdriver could be that he notified the couple that some members of the public feel uncomfortable with there actions. But certainly not in the way the busdriver has reacted, Making the boys feel like 2nd rank citizens. Homosexual or not. they Pay for the public transport and the safety it provides. and how the busdriver and the company reacted is certainly not justified.

      I don’t feel safe if someone tell’s me that he won’t take “Our Shit” and forces us to sit apart or leave the bus, In front of the other travelers. It gives a feeling of discomfort and shame. And both of the feelings aren’t justified!

      You don’t have to be ashamed to be human! Love is a human emotion, not only for Hetrosexuals. but also for Homosexuals! And discrimination shouldn’t be tolerated against homosexuals!

      Here in the Netherlands we are having a great discussion about the attitude of the busdriver and of the buscompany, and it is becoming a “Perfect Example” of Discimination and Racism. I suggest that your Company should act in a proper way to the public and to the media. Cause mistakes like this can cost the company many travelers.

      Can you tell wich of your travelers is homosexual? Can your employees tell you that?
      I don’t think so. but let me tell you that if the bus is carrieng 40 passengers. then there could be a chance that 15-20% of those people is homosexual.

      If you loose 5 customers out of every bustrip. then it does not take a mathematical professor to count out the losses, not only financialy but also for the Company’s Image.

      I Hope that i hear back from you shortly!

      yours sincerely


      Sonny van der Laars
      s.vanderlaars@gmail.com

      Nov 6, 2007 at 9:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sandalphon
      Sandalphon

      I am sick and tired of these faux christians who have to harp on and on like the mormons, about homosexuality. The bigotted irish woman MP, Iris Robinson who recently said :-

      “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”

      What the media fail to read into this statement is what she is really saying. What Robinson is saying is that homosexuality and sodomy is viler than sexually abusing innocent children. First, surely all children that are sexually abused, are completely innocent ! So, she is in fact saying that it is far less of a crime for a heterosexual to sexually abuse a child than it is for homosexuals to indulge in anal intercourse. Why are these type of people always anally fixated ?

      They do not keep up to date either, this is a very interesting statement by the Bishop of Liverpool :-

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-512607/Bishop-quotes-Jesus-backs-sex-relationships.html

      Relevant quote from the news story :-

      ”He was one of a group of bishops who wrote a letter of objection at the gay man’s selection for the high-profile role, leading to him ultimately turning down the post.

      In the book, A Fallible Church, Bishop Jones calls for Anglicans to “acknowledge the authoritative biblical examples of love between two people of the same gender most notably in the relationship of Jesus and his beloved [John] and David and Jonathan.”

      Referring to the Theology of Friendship report, he discusses John “leaning against the bosom, breast, chest of Jesus”.

      The Bishop also describes an “emotional, spiritual and even physical friendship” between David and Jonathan, who appear in the Old Testament books of Samuel.

      When Jonathan, the son of Saul, King of Israel, first meets David after he slays Goliath against the odds, the Bible describes him as being immediately struck by the young man.

      It reads: “And it came to pass, when he [David] had made an end to speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him with his own soul.”

      The Bishop asks: “Was their friendship sexual? Were they gay? Was at least one of them homosexual? Were they both heterosexual? Were they bisexual?”

      Answering his own question, he then writes: “You assume that it is a person’s sexual inclination that defines their personhood. Is it not possible to say that here are two men with the capacity to love fully, both men and women?”

      Bigotry and homophobia must be stopped. I applaud Nick Henderson and his friend for their endeavours to change things.

      Nov 14, 2008 at 1:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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