Friday 30 September 2016

Barber 'refused haircuts to gay couple and young boy with disability'

Catherine Devine

Published 10/06/2016 | 14:14

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

A barber allegedly turned away a gay couple and a young boy with a disability when they came into his shop to get their hair cut.

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Michele Giansanti and his boyfriend Robert Nagle claim they were refused by a Turkish barber in Cork, because they were gay.

“A few days ago I needed a haircut and my boyfriend came with me because he saw a style he wanted for me in a magazine wanted to explain to the guy the style. I sat down in the chair and while my boyfriend was explaining what I wanted the barber interrupted him and said he wasn’t going to do this and we could get it done next door,” said Michele.

“I had been going to this barber for 10 months previously and never had any problems but the second I walked in with my boyfriend he was very rude. I’m gay so I’m pretty sure that was the reason.”

Michele said his friend had a similar experience from the barber who claimed his hair “was too short and he didn’t need a haircut at all”.

“I was walking in the area after and when the barber saw me he came to the door and locked it,” said Michele.

Mary Bermingham called into Cork’s 96fm this morning and accused the same barber of refusing to serve her 13-year-old son who has mild cerebral palsy.

“We just decided to go in for a haircut. He has cerebral palsy, it’s mild enough but he was in his wheelchair that particular day because he uses it if he gets tired so we went in for a haircut, didn’t think anything of it,” said Mary.

“Thomas was taking of his safety belt and he was going to get out and your man said I can’t cut his hair and I said why not and he said oh he can’t in the chair. I just asked was he serious and he opened the door for us to leave. I just couldn’t believe it, I was shocked.”

Mary said that it wasn't an issue that Thomas was in a wheelchair as he can get out of his seat himself.

“He looked at my son like he was going to catch something and my son just put his belt back on. He didn’t want to make an issue out of it. He was embarrassed," she continued.

“I said to him what kind of person refuses someone because they’re disabled, especially a child.”

After attempts to contact the barbers were unsuccessful, Cork’s 96fm reporter Fergal Barry went to the barber to talk to him.

Fergal claimed he went into the barber when it wasn’t busy, but was asked to leave after explaining he was a journalist and asked for a comment on the discrimination.

“He caught me and he pushed me out of the premises not very violently but if I had resisted it would have hurt,” he said.

The reporter claims that the barber followed him around the corner and told him to never come back to the premises again.

Both Michele and Mary plan to file a discrimination claim to the Gardai after being turned away.

“He had a very bad attitude. I’m surprised that that happened and at this point given the other people’s experiences I’m seriously thinking about doing that. There is clearly something wrong with that person,” said Michele.

Attempts by Independent.ie to contact the barbers at the centre of the allegations have been unsuccessful.

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