A homeless man has claimed he was discriminated against by a St Vincent de Paul refuge because of his homosexuality and HIV-positive status.
Zac Drayson told Sydney Star Observer he rang St Jude’s Refuge in Bankstown, a St Vincent de Paul hostel, after being told there was a bed available there.
After disclosing his HIV status on the phone to a St Jude’s staff member, Drayson claimed he was asked if he was gay. When he said he was, Drayson claimed the staff member told him he would not be able to stay there as he might hit on the other men in the hostel.
The charity organisation has denied the allegation, telling Sydney Star Observer St Vincent’s had a non-discrimination policy.
Drayson complained to the hostel’s managing body.
It’s been nearly a month since I put in the complaint with Vinnies. I’ve had numerous conversations with them but they won’t do anything about it, he said.
I never received an apology or anything. That was the main thing I was looking for. And they’re not willing to.
Drayson said he had also filed a complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board about the matter.
Les Mico, president of St Vincent de Paul Sydney, said he was having a little bit of difficulty accepting the claims.
The president, who told the Star he had two gay sons himself, found it rather odd a St Vincent de Paul refuge would discriminate on the basis of HIV status or sexuality, when there are people who are gay and people who are HIV-positive in a number of our placements.
Because we have people of all different sexual orientations with us I can’t agree with his original statement.
Mico suspected Drayson’s claims may have been the result of a misunderstanding or poor communication. However, he said he had encouraged Drayson to file an official complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board if he felt discriminated against.
I have no problem at all if he proceeds and I certainly welcome the inquiry. If we need a shake-up we need a shake-up, but I don’t believe that to be the case, Mico said.