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Ben Hamilton
(1982 - living) U.K.

Ben Hamilton



Ben, of Eastleigh, Hants, who has been openly gay since he was 15, is claiming unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, was a salesman at Scotthall BMW showroom in Chandler's Ford, Hants, from December 2004. He felt compelled to resign in October 2006 for the persistent remarks about his sexuality.

Ben claims he was branded "the nice poof", "faggot" and "bender Ben" by workmates. He told the hearing he was banned from wearing pink clothing and was made to change. And when he grew a beard he claimed colleagues walking past him would jeer the phrase "Deal or No Deal?" at him after gameshow host Noel Edmonds up to 30 times a day.

Ben said a manager told him:

"It must be great to be gay. Does it mean you and your fella can go out, have a few beers, have a curry, beat each other up and still get laid?" He said a colleague also mocked him for going to see an Elton John concert. When he said the show was "crap", the colleague allegedly replied: "But surely you boys are used to that, being in the same club. Come on, Ben, crap is an occupational hazard for you boys."

Ben told the hearing:

"Work became dramatically more unpleasant and less successful for me from that point on. It was soon painfully clear gay men were regarded as fair game for abuse, bullying and harassment because of their sexuality. I had always been open about my sexuality, yet never expected to be treated differently because of it. Despite taking great pride in my appearance I was regularly criticised, belittled and humiliated about it. I believe that was due to my sexuality. For example, I was singled out to ensure my appearance did not conform in any way to the sexual stereotyping of a gay man. I was strongly discouraged from wearing anything pink because when I did I attracted comments such as 'sweetheart, what on earth are you wearing' and 'hello sweety'.

"Mark Hannon (a manager) said 'yahoo sweety, oh you look smashing', tongue-in-cheek in a camp voice and with a silly wave. Others wore pink clothing without attracting such comments or jibes. I believe that was because they were not gay. I was even told in a sales meeting to go home and change my clothes. I was wearing a pink shirt and pink tie with a black suit. At least 10 other people were there. I had no choice and did what I was told. I went home and changed into a white shirt and a blue tie. I felt humiliated."

Ben said he grew a 'discreet' beard but was told to 'go home and shave' by bosses.

"My hair is light brown, not ginger. Since then, I was regularly greeted by Mark Hannon and another colleague with 'all right Noel - Deal or No Deal?' This could be up to 30 times a day in front of work colleagues and mostly on the sales floor."

Ben added:

"When you're the victim you just cannot help feeling degraded. It was veiled hostility and homophobia aimed at belittling and humiliating me about my sexuality - something I cannot change. I couldn't really win. When I objected I was instantly made out to be bolshy and a bad sport."

He claimed colleagues who went on anti-discrimination training did not take the sessions seriously.

The tribunal heard that in the summer of 2006 Mr Hamilton visited his GP. He was diagnosed as suffering from severe stress symptoms and was signed off sick. In October that year he resigned from his job.

Ben lost his case at an employment tribunal. Southampton tribunal chairman Lawrence Guyer said: "While there was evidence of joking and banter it was not of sexual nature."

In a statement his former employer said:

"We feel vindicated by the employment tribunal's verdict. At no time was Ben Hamilton the subject of abuse for his sexual orientation or at all. As the tribunal heard, he owed huge sums of money and chose to instigate false claims against his former colleagues and employer."


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