JD Sports suspends staff after gay couple branded ‘battymen’

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Sporting goods chain JD Sports has suspended a number of staff members – after a gay couple were allegedly referred to as “battymen”.

Gavin Matthews, and his partner Craig Hards say they encountered the homophobic language from staff members at JD Sports on Eltham High Street.

Mr Matthews said in a statement to PinkNews: “As I took a couple of steps in I heard from the rep behind me ‘Der battys in’it’.

“I quickly spun on my heels and stared straight at the individual who was just laughing whilst his colleague, who was no more than one foot from my side, just moved away quickly further into the store.

“My partner returned to my side and I told him in high tones ‘we’re leaving’.

“This is an outrageous homophobic hate crime and I immediately contacted JD sports customer services by email and received two days later a generic apology with a comment that they haven’t experienced this before.”

A spokesman for JD Sports has today confirmed that two members of staff have been suspended over the incident, and that one external member of staff was no longer employed by the company.

A statement to the Standard said: “Mr Matthews informed JD Sports of his complaint via the online customer service centre following the incident on Sunday 5 April.

“A new member of agency staff, who was working on a trial period at the time, unfortunately failed to properly escalate the complaint to the senior management team, who became aware of this incident on Friday 17 April. This individual is no longer working on behalf of JD Sports.

“We deplore discrimination of any kind and take this matter very seriously and took action as soon as this mistake was realised.

“Two employees from our Eltham store were suspended on Saturday 18 April pending a disciplinary hearing which is scheduled to take place later this week. The head of our customer service team spoke with Mr Matthews yesterday and he is aware of the action we are taking and will be informed of the outcome of the disciplinary process.”

A cab driver in Oregon was arrested earlier this month, after throwing a gay couple out of his car for kissing.