‘Gay boy’ taunts at couple - claim
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 December 2010
WESTON Jobcentre is investigating claims that staff taunted a gay couple with homophobic comments during weeks of discrimination.
Bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), responsible for the High Street facility, are looking into claims that Steve Mellor and Roy Pearson were called ‘gay boys’ and were victimised because of their sexuality.
The couple, who live in Victoria Quadrant, have only been claiming job seekers’ allowance and housing benefit since mid-November, but allege during that period of time they have been victimised because they are gay.
They say they have been verbally abused and have been deliberately given less help than others because of their sexuality.
DWP denies one claim that a member of staff said to the pair, who have lived together for five months, that colleagues were trained to ‘deal’ with people like them, but says an investigation is underway into other claims.
Steve, who says he and Roy feel victimised, told the Mercury they wrote to the centre after the final straw last week.
He says had to start claiming benefits because of a long-term illness, made worse by stress.
He said: “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.”
Steve, aged 23 and 28-year-old Roy, say when they used to claim benefits separately at the beginning they did not have any problems, but since they officially declared themselves as a couple to the centre they have had nothing but trouble.
A DWP spokesman 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.”