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Gay firefighter ‘killed himself after 15 years of bullying at work’

Jessica Geen March 30, 2009

A man is seeking damages from a fire service after his civil partner killed himself after allegedly suffering 15 years of homophobic bullying and harassment at work.

The man, who cannot be named, committed suicide on January 28th, days before his hearing was due to start.

It is claimed he had been subject to discrimination and abuse from colleagues since coming out 15 years ago.

The complainant alleged he had been passed over for promotion and that colleagues would stuff his uniform and boots with gay porn, making it difficult for him to go out on call quickly.

He was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and forced to retire early after 27 years of service.

The man had been in a heterosexual relationship for the first half of his years of service, but alleged that problems only began when he came out as gay.

His partner is contending that the “discriminatory” treatment he received contributed to the mental health issues that led to his death.

Anne Gadd, of Gay Lawyers, the dedicated LGBT division of Giambrone Law, said the dead man’s partner was seeking “substantial” damages.

She said: “To lose your partner in this way is horrendous. He wants acknowledgment and justice for what happened and recognition for this terrible wrong.”

The hearing has been postponed for reasons unrelated to the case.

The parties cannot be named due to legal reasons.

A survey of firefighters released last year found that a third of respondents had experienced bullying or harassment in the previous 12 months and a quarter said they had been verbally abused.

There was also evidence of discrimination by individuals against work colleagues on grounds of age, gender, sexuality and race.

Last month, minister Sadiq Khan, who has responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services in England, wrote to chief fire officers encouraging them to take action by joining Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme.

Mr Khan’s call was backed by the the Fire and Rescue Service’s associations and unions.

“If we are to attract and recruit the best people to the Fire and Rescue Service from the widest pool of talent then all must know that they are welcome, that there is equality of opportunity and they will be treated with dignity and respect,” said Mr Khan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

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