Stephen English, the team leader of a group of staff known as ‘The Top Guns’ working for Thomas Sanderson Blinds Ltd, has brought an anti-discrimination high court case against his former employer. This case is grounded in the fact that despite his heterosexual status, other members of staff labelled him a “faggot” due to his residence in the city of Brighton.
Brighton is widely accepted as a gay friendly city, with a large part of the population identifying as homosexual; estimated at around 15% of the city’s population . The City Council highlights this, describing the city as “the UK’s Gay Capital” on the website www.visitbrighton.com. Often therefore, a resident of Brighton is more likely to be associated with homosexuality than a resident of a city with a smaller homosexual population.
In Mr. English’s case, his legal team argues that his colleagues’ use of homophobic insults in relation to Brighton – as bullying tactics – left him with little choice but to resign. Whilst Thomas Sanderson Ltd’s barrister, Shirley Bothroyd, may argue that Mr. English “Gave as good as he got.” This case still exists either as an example of a joke gone horribly wrong, or as evidence that homophobia and perceived sexuality still exist as major barriers to equality, especially within the workplace.