On Friday 11th January, Mark Craig and Steven Black, a young gay couple from Old Meldrum in Aberdeenshire had been in Aberdeen visiting Steven’s mum. At around 10:30 they left to catch the last bus back to Old Meldrum. They arrived at Berryden Road bus stop at around 11:00pm and waited. Mark said:
The bus arrived at around 11:30. It pulled in to the bus stop as Steven and I were waiting. The bus doors opened slightly and the driver looked at us then looked around him and closed the doors and drove off leaving us standing on the street in the freezing cold. It was the same driver that tried to kick us off for hugging in the back of the bus last year.
Last October Mark and Steven were on the last Stagecoach bus of the night from Aberdeen to Old Meldrum, when the driver suddenly stopped the bus and demanded they get off. This was supposedly at the behest of a fellow passenger, for sitting with their arm around the other, as many couples do. The driver then forced Mark and Steven to separate before continuing on the journey, leaving them shocked and humiliated.
After hearing about this incident, the Scottish Socialist Party organised a mass email campaign to Stagecoach’s Director of Corporate Communications, Steven Stewart. Hundreds of gay rights activists and ordinary members of the public appalled by this story asked for an apology for illegally discriminating against the couple. Stagecoach ignored all of these requests, and made it clear that they thought the driver had done nothing wrong, and had stood by him 100%; accusing everyone else of not knowing the facts of the case.
With the bus company refusing to apologise for illegally discriminating against the couple and fully backing the driver, ‘hug-in’ protests by same sex couples and friends took place on Stagecoach busses around Scotland, with members of the SSP retracing the same route from Aberdeen to Old Meldrum with Mark and Steven.
Now these two courageous young men need our help and support once more. The Scottish Socialist Party is standing fully behind the couple, as we did last year, because homophobic bullying is totally unacceptable, especially when it is perpetrated by a company with monopolies on many of the bus routes in Britain. We ask that the LGBT community and straight allies alike to stand with us and Mark and Steven in opposition to this continued bullying and harassment.
Please contact Steven Stewart, the Director of Corporate Communications at Stagecoach
(Steven.Stewart@stagecoachgroup.com, Tel: 01738 642040 or fax: 01738 443076) to demand that this clearly anti-gay bus driver be suspended from his job pending review and diversity training, and for a full and immediate public apology to be issued to Mark Craig and Steven Black for the appalling way in which they are being treated.
This harassment and bullying by a multi million pound company against one, young, gay couple is utterly disgusting and totally illegal. Nobody should suffer it, which is why we are asking everybody to demand an end to it.