Main | Monday, December 15, 2008

Trolley Dolly Follies

To great fanfare, today Emirates Airlines begins nonstop flights between San Francisco and Dubai. However, the SF Chronicle points out that the airline's rules specify that it will not hire openly gay flight attendants - making the company in violation of laws regarding any entity that does business with the city.
The airline, which is run by the government of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, operates by rules far different from those San Francisco espouses. Take Emirates' flight attendants, for instance. A recent Wall Street Journal piece on the airline says that "tough rules are enforced, including some that would be deemed discriminatory in the West, such as weight requirements and a no-pregnancy policy for unwed women." Further, the paper says: "Openly gay male attendants need not apply. Premarital sex and homosexuality are both illegal in Dubai."

In San Francisco, however, it's illegal for contractors doing business with the city to discriminate in employment or in dealing with the public. And Larry Brinkin, the compliance officer for the city Human Rights Commission, says airline reps, under penalty of perjury, checked off all the boxes on a city form saying they don't discriminate based on "race, sexual orientation or religion." They also submitted documentation showing they comply with the city's decade-old ordinance guaranteeing benefits to both gays and unmarried couples who register as domestic partners. "They say they don't discriminate, and we don't know otherwise," Brinkin said.
Apparently Emirates will be able to skirt the law because flight attendants are not employees based in the city. It's not clear what the airline does about gay ticket agents or ground crew. In the comments for this story on, you'll find the usual "Islamofacists" vs "uber-PC gays" debate.

(Tipped by JMG reader Tom)

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