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Ice Rink Sued For Banning Gay Hand-Holding

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Ice Rink Sued For Banning Gay Hand-Holding

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

May 5, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Oakland, California) Two gay figure skaters have filed a discrimination suit against a Berkeley ice rink that ordered them to stop skating hand-in-hand.

Alan Lessik,52, and John Manzon-Santos, 41, say they were shocked when they were told by the manager of Berkeley Iceland to break up their skating partnership.

In court documents filed in Alameda County Superior Court the men say that the manager ordered them on two occasions last year to stop skating while holding hands.

The skating duo are not a couple but say they enjoy skating together.

They met at the Gay Games in Sydney, Australia and were practicing at Iceland in preparation for this summer's Gay Games in Chicago.

Their lawsuit alleges that manager Monte Tiedemann and Iceland engaged in ``unlawful and discriminatory business practices by denying [them] their right as two men to skate as a pair.''

The lawsuit seeks a public apology from Iceland and for Tiedemann to undergo sensitivity training.

The rink denies there was discrimination in the order to skate separately.

"It's even a little bit insulting because we've had people of various sexual orientations who have worked for us, coached for us and skated for us,'' East Bay Iceland general manager Jay Wescott told The Oakland Tribune.

Westoctt says Tiedemann asked the pair not to hold hands because of safety concerns.

Lessik disagrees.

"We were publicly humiliated by having this happen to us and we feel absolutely clear that Monte has a problem with gay skaters,'' Lessik told the Tribune.

"There is homophobia in this sport and if it's coming out in a place like Berkeley, young kids who are in skating are going to feel they can't be out,'' Lessik said.

Amy Todd, a National Center for Lesbian Rights attorney representing Lessik and Manzon-Santos said both sides will meet next week in an effort to mediate the dispute and avoid a lengthy trial.

©365Gay.com 2006

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