The Press reports:
Bitter ructions in the Customs Service over gay officers strip-searching male passengers have been revealed in a Christchurch employment case.
In a case before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), two sacked frontline customs officers are fighting to regain their jobs at Christchurch International Airport.
Evidence shows officers at the airport were concerned about a gay customs officer, described as “flamboyant”, who allegedly sought more than his share of strip-search assignments and made lewd comments about male passengers.
The officer, who still works for the service and whose name is suppressed, also allegedly used recreational drugs.
The case has disclosed a Customs Service policy that bars the service from asking the sexual orientation of its frontline officers because of potential charges of unlawful discrimination.
Its legal advice says passengers are not entitled to know the sexual orientation of officers conducting strip searches at airports and ports.
This is an interesting issue. Is the sex or the sexual orientation of the officer doing the strip search more relevant? Should either be a factor? As I understand it you always get searched by someone of the same sex as you. Now why is that? Probably because of assumptions over sexual orientation?
Speaking for myself, personally I prefer not to be strip searched at all. If one has to be searched, then ideally an Eastern European female guard would be my preference 🙂
More seriously, I can’t say I would be worried about what sex they were, or what sexual orientation they were. What matters is how professional they are – that they don’t make inappropriate remarks, or search anywhere they are not required to do so.
However I can quite understand that many women do not want to be strip searched by male officers. They could well regard it as exploitative.
Maybe passengers should be asked if they have a preference for the gender of the officer to search them?