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March 3, 2010

Vegas Taxi Authority Manual Lists Gay Men as “High Risk”

The Las Vegas Taxi Authority (TA)—which monitors thousands of cabs in the city—is distributing a policy manual to officers listing homosexuals alongside intravenous drug users and sex workers as “persons of high-risk groups” for communicable diseases, such as HIV and other blood-borne illnesses, reports. The policy, which can be read here, says that TA officers should wear protective gear and gloves when bringing a high-risk suspect into custody.

According to the article, several area law enforcement agencies—including the Nevada Highway Patrol, the University of Nevada, the Las Vegas Police, the Henderson Police and the North Las Vegas Police—have removed this language from their policies. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is in the process of doing so.

While the TA approved a new policy manual in 2007 that removes the stigmatizing language, the agency continues to distribute the outdated version.

“It is medically, politically and socially unacceptable now,” said Nevada Equal Rights Commissioner and longtime gay rights activist Lee Plotkin. “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.”

An unnamed TA officer said the antigay policy is typical of intolerance within the agency regarding sexual orientation and race. “The environment in the TA is awful,” the officer said. “It’s been brought to the chief investigator’s desk, and the administrator, and nothing has been done. Nothing.”

Search: Vegas Taxi Authority, high risk, Nevada, gay, homosexual, intravenous drug users, sex workers

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