The Las Vegas Taxicab Authority is operating under a discriminatory and outdated policy that requires its police officers to assume gays have infectious diseases and to wear protective gear when making an arrest, reports KLAS-TV.
The Exposure to Communicable Diseases [spells] out how the TA can protect its employees and the public from those suspected of having infections. And who are those people? According to the TA, high-risk groups include homosexuals, I.V. drug users and prostitutes. Former TA Officer Scott Lewis says he was floored when he read the policy manual given to him by his boss at the TA. "It took my breath away to read that," he said. "It lumps in homosexuals and gays with drug users and prostitutes. Drug users and prostitutes as we know are criminals." The policy spells out that TA officers should use protective gear and gloves in the event they need to take a high-risk suspect into custody. "My question is, what is a homosexual? How can you tell? Would you ask them, ‘Are you homosexual?' and then stop, as it says, for your personal protective equipment," said Lewis.
Nevada Equal Rights Commissioner and veteran gay rights activist Lee Plotkin calls the policy a "relic" of the past and says the idea that a state agency views gay visitors as disease risks is horrible. "It is medically, politically and socially unacceptable now,"Plotkin said. "Does this mean Siegfried and Roy couldn't have gotten a cab to the Mirage. Does this mean Elton John couldn't get a cab to Caesars Palace? It's just ridiculous. I hope the TA takes the appropriate action."
The Las Vegas Taxicab Authority reportedly stopped enforcing this policy internally in 2007. However, instruction manuals given to new hires still contain the offensive instructions to treat gay men as if all have HIV/AIDS and are risks(pdf). Watch the video report at KLAS.