A gay couple from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England have claimed that they have victimised by staff at their Jobcentre Plus because of their sexuality.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has begun an investigation into complaints made by Steve Mellor, 23, and Roy Pearson, 28, who allege that they have suffered verbal abuse and given less help than straight people by staff.
The couple have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and housing benefits together since mid-November. They say that when they claimed as individuals they had no problems.
Mr Mellor claims benefits because of a long-term illness exasperated by stress.
The Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying: ”When we went in on Wednesday to find out about Christmas payments we got no help whatsoever, so we started walking away.
”Comments then came from staff such as ‘those two gay boys always come in for information’ while they pointed and laughed at us’.”
His partner said: ”The way we have been treated has been getting worse since we announced we were a couple. You just don’t expect this in 2010!” The couple also claim that a member of staff told them he was trained to “deal” with people like them.
In a statement, Jobcentre Plus (part of the DWP) said:”Jobcentre Plus is committed to treating all individuals fairly and equally regardless of their sexual orientation.
”We will not tolerate discrimination and will take any allegations seriously. We are aware of this complaint and are investigating.”