A queer couple who were harassed by a homophobic passenger on a recent Jetstar flight in Australia say they feared for their lives during the ordeal, and that the flight crew did nothing to help them.
Julz Evans, 26, and Cat Franke, 23, say they were flying from Melbourne to Perth to visit family on New Year’s Eve when the man sitting behind them, who was allegedly drunk, began yelling homophobic slurs and kicking their seats.
“The man started off by keeping his hand on the top of my partner’s chair, then when I tried to share a kiss with my partner he pressed his face right up to the gap between our two chairs and started mumbling ‘kiss, come on I wanna see some lesbians kiss,’ Franke wrote in a Facebook post.
“My partner and I felt so uncomfortable because of this pervert,” she added, “we immediately stopped our conversation and sat as still as possible, hoping he would leave us alone.” Unfortunately, because we had not met his request he began his homophobic slurs, singing loudly and also mumbling about how we were faggots, dykes and poofters.”
She added that he also railed against same-sex marriage while kicking their seats.
From there, the couple says things only got worse. When Franke spoke up and asked him to stop, the man allegedly began punching the back of their seats as well, continuing for the duration of the flight so that Evans couldn’t ever lean back against her chair.
“I feared for mine and my partner’s lives on that plane,” Franke said. “We were physically trapped with someone who wanted to hurt us and make sure we had a terrible time.”
According to Franke’s account, although the man had clearly been drinking before the flight began, the flight crew continued to serve him alcohol and refused to do anything to help the harassed passengers.
“Your staff were aware of his behavior and did absolutely nothing to even try to help the situation,” Franke wrote, addressing the airline. “Your staff had been receiving abuse from him too, yet failed to do anything about him other than giggle at his drunkenness.”
A Jetstar spokesperson told Fairfax Media that the airline does not tolerate discrimination, and that the crew member who’d been told about the incident was “appalled.”
The couple have been given two $50 Jetstar vouchers in what the spokesperson called a “gesture of goodwill” while the airline investigates, but Franke said she wants a full refund for the flight, and hopes the airline will blacklist their abuser as a passenger on future flights.
“What he did to us on that flight has been the most awful verbal abuse and discrimination I have ever experienced,” she said.