The BC Human Rights Tribunal has decided to hear a complaint brought by a lesbian who alleges that she and her partner were “subjected to a tirade of homophobic and sexist comments” by a comedian at a Commercial Dr restaurant in May 2007.
Lorna Pardy filed a human rights complaint against standup comic Guy Earle who appeared at Zesty’s (now Zawa), alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex and sexual orientation in violation of the BC Human Rights Code.
In the complaint, Pardy also alleges that Zesty’s owner and manager Salam Ismail “did not intervene to prevent the tirade, or the harassment from continuing.”
Both Earle and Ismail deny that they discriminated against Pardy and filed separate applications to have the complaint dismissed.
Tribunal chair Heather MacNaughton dismissed their applications, and agreed to hear the case because the complaint as alleged could constitute a violation of the BC Human Rights Code, she ruled Jun 24.
MacNaughton acknowledged that Pardy and Earle have very different versions of “who was to blame for the incidents, how it came about, and how it escalated.”
“There is also a dispute about the amount of alcohol involved in the incident. Mr Earle does, however, admit that he used comments which he now regrets. Those admitted comments may go to establish discrimination,” MacNaughton ruled.
Following the incident last year, Earle admitted to Xtra West that he “literally said some offensive things” to Pardy and her partner. He claimed then that the two women were trying to draw attention to the fact they were lesbians because they were “making out” during his show.
Earle said he challenged the women about being “rude” from the stage, but was heckled. “They were doing the standard drunken heckling stuff like ‘you’re an asshole, you’re not funny. Get off the stage,'” Earle alleges. “I was like, ‘Who the hell are you guys coming in at the end of the show?’ I snapped, and I shouldn’t have… and yeah, I unloaded offensively like I do to any heckler,” Earle acknowledged.
Pardy and her partner refused to comment for Xtra West’s Jun 8, 2007 article, on advice from legal counsel.
A date for the Human Rights Tribunal hearing has not yet been set.