Annual cultural and sports festival the Gay Games takes place in Cleveland and Akron from August 9-16 this year. In anticipation of the event, organizers have taken out advertisements on Cleveland taxis throughout the city. This simple marketing campaign has caused an uproar amongst some taxi company employees.
According to Fox News, roughly 25 Muslim cab drivers have informed their employers they will refuse to drive cabs advertising the Gay Games event. The protesting drivers work for two different cab companies — Ace and Yellow Taxi Cab — but all are dispatched to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The drivers cited religious reasons for why they will no longer be able to participate in the airport’s taxi program.
The companies are currently working with the airport to hire replacement drivers.
“The airport is committed to providing this necessary customer service to our arriving passengers seeking transportation from the airport to their final destination,” said airport director Ricky Smith in a statement.
The Gay Games began in San Francisco in 1982 and are open to individuals of all sexualities.
“What’s surprising is that the Gay Games are about inclusion. The Gay Games are open to everybody. This is about inclusiveness on sporting fields and welcoming people as they are,” said Gay Games spokeswoman Ann Gynn in response to the taxi drivers’ protest.
The issue of LGBT rights was also significant during this year’s Winter Olympic Games, as Russia has laws discriminating against homosexuality. Around 75,000 members of LGBT organization All Out recently signed a petition urging the International Olympic Committee to overhaul the Olympic bidding process to ensure that the human rights of LGBT individuals are respected during future Olympic events.