We’d like to think LQBT rights are making great strides. However, there are still instances that remind us how much more work needs to be done.
The most recent of these happened in Paris, where a lesbian couple was humiliated for kissing at a train station.
According to reports, the couple was embracing and saying farewell when a train guard began yelling. The yelling went on for several minutes, and the guard told the couple that their actions “cannot be tolerated”.
The angry, homophobic guard also told the couple that it would have been okay for a straight couple to kiss.
One of the women on the receiving end of the homophobic rant, was Mirjam from Amsterdam, who is a member of the organisation All Out.
Writing on the All Out site, she said
“Imagine it. You spent the weekend with your partner in Paris. You say goodbye on the train platform with a hug and a kiss. It’ll be a while until you see each other again. Then an angry train official strides over to stop you kissing – he says it ‘can’t be tolerated’. Humiliating. My girlfriend and I can’t believe that a Thalys official picked on us just because we’re not a straight couple.”
Later, she told Le Nouvel Observateur magazine:
“I couldn’t believe someone was telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I was also shocked because he wouldn’t stop talking, from our arrival on the platform around 8am until the train left 15 minutes later. He certainly spoiled our au revoirs.”
Mirjam, along with All Out, is calling for Thalys International, the European train company that owns and operates the station to act. She has asked LGBTs and supporters of gay rights to sign a petition “to denounce this anti-gay customer service – and train staff to treat everyone the same, whether lesbian, gay, bi or straight.”
In 2013, Thalys launched an advertising campaign showing couples, including a same-sex couple, embracing, having been reunited by Thalys trains. However, just because a brand has LGBTQ ads, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are LGBTQ friendly.
“Just like us! But in reality, they didn’t let me kiss my girlfriend on the platform. And they’re staying silent after one of their staff went on an anti-gay rant. This isn’t just about this one person’s anti-gay rant, it’s about pushing the company to turn their marketing messages into action and ensure they treat everyone fairly.”
Mirjam reached out to the corporate offices of Thalys International, but did not receive a response until yesterday, when her petition had reached 60,000 signatures.
Because of Mirjam’s actions, the company will now have equality trainings and use her experience to make agents more aware. Still, it’s upsetting that Mirjam had to make this much of an uproar to get a response to her poor treatment.