New Zealand: Protesters will hold ‘turn McDonalds gay day’ after employee told he was ‘too gay’

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Demonstrators will gather at a branch of fast-food chain McDonald’s to hold a “turn McDonald’s gay day”, in protest against the treatment of a staff member, who was told by his manager that he would be disciplined if he “turned anybody else gay oh shift”.

It emerged during a New Zealand protest against conditions for workers at fast food chain McDonald’s that gay staff members at one store faced discrimination and harassment, with Sean Bailey claiming several coworkers had left their jobs over the problem.

Sean Bailey, a Unite union delegate, will protest against McDonald’s Britomart, Auckland this evening, after he was told by a manager:  if you act gay on my shift, I will discipline you.”

“I had to call in sick just because I couldn’t work with him, which meant I lost work hours and money,” said Bailey.

Demonstrators will hold a kiss-in at the store, and a Gay Disco experience outside, on the picket line.

Reports suggest that other McDonald’s employees who have experienced bullying because of their sexuality, gender, or ethnicity, will also be in attendance.

McDonald’s workers from throughout the New Zealand capital, Auckland, also gathered in front of the restaurant on Queens Street on 2 May to demonstrate against low wages and unfair hours, among other concerns.

Among them was Bailey, who told TVNZ he and other employees at Quay Street had faced the prospect of being disciplined for being “too gay”, and had faced harassment.

The manager was reported and forced to apologise, and was moved to another store in Auckland, but Mr Bailey pointed out, “there’s nothing to stop him from doing the same thing somewhere else.”

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “[McDonald’s] takes complaints of this nature very seriously. In this specific case the restaurant followed internal processes but due to privacy restrictions we cannot discuss the outcome.”

McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand caused controversy in 2011 by blocking LGBT websites that did not contain sexually explicit content. The ban was eventually lifted after the company received criticism.