Driver suspended for allegedly refusing to operate bus that ‘promotes homosexuality’

Norwich Bus Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Bus Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

An internal investigation has been launched by a bus company after one of its Norwich drivers was accused of homophobia.

A Gay Pride flag flying on City Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

A Gay Pride flag flying on City Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Passenger Rebecca Sears claimed a Konectbus driver insisted on swapping buses as the one he was in "promoted homosexuality" and he refused to drive it.

She said he was referring to the vehicle's service number, which was designed to feature the colours of the gay pride rainbow flag.

Go East Anglia, which runs the Konectbus service, said the driver involved has been suspended and that a full investigation was under way.

Miss Sears, 19, from Norwich, claimed the incident happened at Norwich Bus Station on Friday, August 9, as she went to board the 501 park and ride service.

She said: "The driver told us we couldn't get on, and he was making a call at the time. He then said: 'this bus promotes homosexuality and I refuse to drive it'.

"We all looked at each other and couldn't work out if he was joking. It was just ridiculous."

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Miss Sears said she was with two other women at the time who also appeared "baffled" by the driver's comment.

As the driver went to change vehicles, she then went to the bus station's front desk to report what had happened.

Miss Sears said: "I just thought why is this such a big deal?

"You are stopping people from getting home for such a ridiculous reason. We are not asking him to join in with Pride, it's just about acceptance.

"I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if it stops you from doing your job, then it is ridiculous."

She said the driver moved onto a new bus, which the passengers then boarded.

A spokesperson for Go East Anglia said the company prides itself on values that support diversity and inclusion.

The spokesperson said the company has supported Norwich Pride since 2017.

"We particularly want all customers of whatever background or sexual orientation to feel comfortable on our services," the spokesperson said.

"As a company we do not condone any behaviour from our drivers that does not support this view. "The driver involved in this incident has been suspended and a full investigation is underway."

In a Twitter post, Konectbus said: "We find this attitude and behaviour completely unacceptable - this is certainly not the level of customer service and care that we expect from our drivers.

"This is currently under investigation and appropriate measures will be taken."