San Diego firefighers win damages in Pride case

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Four firefighters from California have been awarded damages of $34,000 (£23,000) after a  jury agreed they were sexually harassed at a Pride parade they were compelled to take part in.

The city of San Diego said it will appeal the court’s decision.

A previous trial in October ended in jury deadlock after nearly four days of deliberation and a mistrial was declared.

John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison claimed they were subjected to hostile language and sexually explicit acts as they followed an order to attend the Pride parade in 2007.

The firefighters said that along the parade route, they were subjected to offensive and lewd comments such as “you can put out my fire,” and saw men blowing kisses at them.

Then they had to endure protesters who yelled at them that homosexuality was a sin.

“I was forced into a situation that would compromise what I hold true and what I believe in,” engineer Jason Hewitt said in a statement.

Lawyers for the city of San Diego had argued that city authorities must treat all people equally, it was part of their job to be present at the parade and the complaint of sexual harassment was void as the firefighters had not been physically touched or threatened with such treatment.