BY CANDY PARKER
Some drivers for Ace, AmeriCab and Yellow Taxi in Cleveland aren’t keen on promoting the city’s upcoming Gay Games. Citing religious objections, approximately 17 cabbies, many of whom are Muslim, have walked off the job rather than drive cars displaying ads for the 2014 Gay Games.
According to Outlook Columbus, Gay Games Executive Director Tom Nobbe said that the cab drivers’ objections run counter to the overall reaction to the international event in northeastern Ohio. Organizers have offered to line up LGBT-inclusive diversity training for transportation, safety, hospitality and other businesses and agencies whose employees will help Gay Games visitors, Nobbe said.
“This could accelerate those efforts,” Nobbe said.
“It’s unfortunate they feel this way,” he said of the cab drivers. “It’s the first time something like this has happened.”
The Gay Games are scheduled for August 9-16 in Akron and Cleveland and are expected to draw 30,000 athletes and spectators. Athletes will gather from around the world to compete in 36 events.
“When you look at what’s going on around the world it’s not a huge surprise. In some parts of the world LGBT folks are not very welcome,” said Tom Nobbe of the event.
While Nobbe expressed disappointment over the taxi drivers’ actions, he remains enthusiastic about the event.
“Even though there will be a handful of folks who are not comfortable the vast majority and we’re seeing it now are totally enthusiastic and ready to welcome all these folks into town,” added Nobbe.
Airport Director Ricky Smith released a statement reaffirming Cleveland Hopkins International Airport’s commitment to providing the necessary customer service to arriving passengers seeking transportation from the airport to their final destination. He noted that an agreement has been brokered by the airport between the taxi cab stand operator, Standard Parking, and the affected taxi cab companies that will allow for the replacement of those drivers who no longer wish to participate in the airport’s dedicated taxi cab program.
It is expected to take up to three weeks to back fill the positions vacated by the cabbies.