The Nevada Taxicab Authority, the state agency charged with monitoring cabs on the roadways, promulgates a policy that lists gay people among high risks for transmitting disease to agency employees and the public, along with drug users and prostitutes.
According to CBS 13 in Las Vegas, which reported on the agency’s policies and procedures, “the heading is Exposure to Communicable Diseases, spelling out how the TA can protect its employees and the public from those suspected of having infections.”
Under the rules for “custody,” the policy advises that “persons of high-risk groups, including homosexuals, intravenous drug users, prostitutes and others are to be treated with caution. Where violence or an altercation is likely, when practical, protective disposable gloves and an eye and face shield should be worn.”
Although the Taxicab Authority is focused on the taxi industry, officers have discretion to involve themselves in other public matters. That makes the comparison of gay people to criminals and characterization as a disease risk all the more troubling, say gay advocates, who criticize the agency for intolerant attitudes toward gay people and racial minorities.
“Nevada Equal Rights Commissioner and longtime gay rights activist Lee Plotkin regards the policy as a relic of the past — an anachronism — especially in light of the expensive marketing campaign run by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to attract free-spending gay and lesbian tourists to Las Vegas,” reports CBS 13. “Plotkin says the idea that a state agency views such visitors as disease risks is abhorrent.”
Although the authority said it approved new language that is nonoffensive to gays in 2007, the old manual is still being distributed to field officers. A Taxicab Authority board member plans to investigate.