Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Citing Bible, Public Employee Boots Disabled Gay Couple from Kentucky Swimming Pool

A disabled couple was ejected from a public swimming pool in Kentucky because they are gay, according to the Kentucky Equality Federation.

The two gay men, who have developmental and intellectual disabilities, had gone to the Pavilion, an indoor recreation center in the city of Hazard, where they planned to enjoy a swim on a hot June day. But according to the Kentucky Equality Federation, the couple was immediately approached by Pavilion staff and asked to leave.

The swimming pool at the Hazard Pavilion. (Photo: City of Hazard, KY)

The couple “asked the Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that ‘gay people’ weren’t allowed to swim there,” claimed Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts, Inc., which provides support for people with disabilities. “The man stated that what he was doing was in the Bible and he could do it… [The couple], who already feel ridiculed and different, left the city-owned facility crying and embarrassed for trying to participate in ‘normal’ activities that everyday ‘normal’ people do.”

The city attorney’s office, however, told Kentucky.com the Pavilion does not discriminate, and that “there is a dispute as to the facts of what transpired.” Hazard city attorney Paul Collins said his office is investigating the incident and that a lifeguard at the pool saw the men repeatedly hugging and kissing.

“The staff at the Pavilion report to me that they do on some regular basis caution or warn individuals about excessive public displays of affection and that these warnings are given regardless of sexual orientation,” Collins said.

But according to the group who was at the pool with the couple, no warning was given this time.

“If they’re going to have any type of regulation which prohibits public displays of affection, it needs to be applied uniform throughout and not applied to gay men or lesbian women,” Kentucky Equality Federation president Jordan Palmer told WFPL.

Some gay rights advocates point to this incident as evidence that Kentucky needs a statewide anti-discrimination law. According to WFPL, only Louisville, Lexington and Covington have laws blocking discrimination based on sexual orientation.

 

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