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“I was not just denied entry with my partner to a pub in Hyderabad, but also humiliated by the authorities there. They offered drinks to us in a disposable cup on the streets instead of the normal glass given to others and we were intimidated by the bouncers,” Indrajeet Ghorpade, a gay man, told The Logical Indian.
This dehumanizing incident in November 2018 compelled Indrajeet to reach out to Zomato and ask them to change their policies as far as entry of the LGBTQIA+ community is concerned.
As Zomato partners with several restaurants, it holds the capability to change the restaurants’ policies and promote greater inclusion in our society.
“I reached out to many of my friends across the country and asked them if they also faced similar discrimination. I was disappointed to know that this was a trend almost everywhere,” Indrajeet added.
People have huge expectations from Zomato that it could bring a massive change. From positively influencing restaurants by adding an LGBTQIA+ tag and a note in the table booking allowing the entry of all genders and couples and removing any discriminatory practice against any gender. It could also take action against restaurants that practised discriminatory behaviour by disabling any bookings or Zomato gold availability for such restaurants.
When Indrajeet tried reaching out to Zomato, he did not get any positive response from them for about six months. Many of the restaurants also declined the requests made to them to change the existing discriminatory policies.
“They maintained that they were a customer-friendly platform but did not take any step to govern a restaurant’s policies,” Indrajeet added.
In the month of April 2019, Indrajeet signed a petition on change.org, asking for Zomato’s support as many restaurants across India do not appreciate the entry of LGBTQ couples and stags, considering it to be a threat to their customers, especially women.
The petition was backed by enough voices, and approximately 10,000 people signed the petition which had a powerful impact. People got a platform to share their similar experiences at various pubs and clubs and demanded equality.
Even after a mass participation of people, Zomato did not address the issues seriously and said that they had limited control over such issues.
However, with increasing pressure and more of such incidents coming into the light, Zomato promised to launch an LGBTQIA+ friendly tag across several restaurants.
With the addition of the tag, Zomato focused on, according to the blog, educating and encouraging Indian restaurants, cafes and similar facilities to be welcoming of people’s sexual orientations and to make everyone feel comfortable in the space that they provide for public recreation.
Eventually, many restaurants launched this tag but were not very aware of its implementation. There were some restaurants who did not put the tag, but they didn’t accept that they were in support of any such discrimination.
“With time, there were lesser instances of such discrimination as several restaurants started adapting to the tag and made sure it came into practice. However, the social media teams and other teams of the same restaurants were not aware of it,” Indrajeet said.
What Indrajeet and others expect now is an official confirmation by Zomato clarifying the issue and coming out in support of the movement. This requires effective implementation.
Considering how Zomato had the willingness to bring in a change in its policies and setting an example for others, Inderjeet suggests that it would be great if Zomato makes use of Pride Month to publicize the tag.
“Most companies would deny accepting such a practice under them. However, we have been extremely grateful to Zomato for taking up responsibility and also acting effectively.” Indrajeet said.
Zomato now promises to give better food for more people, unconditionally.
Zomato believes that this isn’t just about good business. It is about doing what is right, about changing both hearts and minds. They wish someday this tag becomes absolutely redundant and we are a much more inclusive society. In the meantime, Zomato will lead by example, the company said in its statement.
Indrajeet and several others are now awaiting clarification from Zomato on proper knowledge and implementation of the tag.
In the 21st century, this discrimination still continues in some parts of the country as people are still denied access to some restaurants, pubs or other places. It is extremely disappointing and such a situation demands an immediate change.
It is, however, heartening to see that Zomato has decided to take a step in this direction. We hope that other organisations adopt a similar practice.
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