A gay man in Essex has won a landmark discrimination test case, based on homophobic gestures alone.
Tim’ whose name has been changed and whose real identity has not been disclosed, had alleged he was the victim of homophobic actions in a locksmith shop, after asking for a refund.
However, the case is unusual as it does not revolve around homophobic language – but rather gestures.
Southend County Court heard that shop assistant Peter Edwards’blew a sarcastic kiss’ at him as he left the Taylor Edwards locksmith in Southend-on-Sea, as well as repeated mocking gestures on about 20 further occasions.
He told the BBC that gestures including blowing kisses, winking, and imitating a limp wrist. Tim also says there was “vile vulgar gesturing” that was “inferring oral sex with a man”.
Tim was awarded £7500 compensation for the abuse, after a judge ruled the treatment was a violation of the 2010 Equality Act.
The man said: “I am obviously delighted with the outcome of my case at Trial. 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 and additionally, if this case provides one person with the courage and conviction to come forward and report an act of harassment and/or homophobia in the future.”
Douglas Johnson of Unity Law, who represented Tim in the case, 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 added: “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.
“The case also shows that the Equality Act 2010 can protect people against acts of discrimination that occurred even after they stop being customers of the business in question.”