Calls for training after gay couple told not to hug

by L&D20 Jul 2016
Staff at Canada's Wonderland have been urged to get sensitivity training so that they understand “people are allowed to openly show affection”.

It comes after Brandon Hamilton and Barrett Morrison recently attended Gay Day at Wonderland, north of Toronto.

The couple were hugging while waiting in line for the Lazy River, when a park employee asked them to stop (on request from another guest), saying it was "a family park".

The couple reportedly told the employee that the request was out of line and he apologised.

Gay Day is an annual event arranged by the non-profit organisation, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Canada (PFLAG).

PFLAG Canada offered to give Wonderland free diversity training, but the park did not respond.

In a statement on Facebook, PFLAG Canada added that they will cancel Gay Day at the park.

“After an incident last month at our annual Gay Day, we have come to the decision that this year will be our last,” said the Facebook statement.

“Gay Day is meant to be a day for our LGBTQ family and friends to feel accepted and included.

"However, during the event this year, two men, who were enjoying the day together as a couple, were approached by two park staff and asked to stop hugging.

“They were told that Wonderland is a 'family' park and that they should monitor their behaviour."

PFLAG Canada said that they were disappointed that this couple were made to feel unwelcome at their event on a day that was “supposed to be a celebration of who they are”.

“We are also disappointed in the response received by Canada's Wonderland, who ignored our offer to come in and provide diversity training to the staff at Wonderland.”

Toronto’s PFLAG president Anne Crieghton added that staff need to get sensitivity training so that they “understand that this is Canada and people are allowed to openly show affection”.

Wonderland’s general manager Norm Pirtovshek apologised for the incident, but argued that employees already received extensive training on discrimination.

He said that “this behaviour will not be accepted by any of our employees or guests”.

Moreover, a Wonderland spokesperson added that each of their 4,000 employees already receive human rights training.