Where was Zoey? The lawyer for lesbian Lorna Pardy seemed thrown by a question about the failure of Pardy’s ex-girlfriend’s to testify at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The question was asked by adjudicator Murray Geiger-Adams during last Friday’s wrap-up of a hearing into homophobic remarks that Pardy was subjected to by comedian Guy Earle, just after her then girlfriend kissed her at  ‘open mic’ comedy night at Zesty’s restaurant in Vancouver.

“Zoey Broomsgrove’s absence: What do you think I should or shouldn’t make of it?”

There was a prolonged pause after Geiger-Adams asked that question of Devyn Cousineau as she concluded closing arguments on behalf of her client, Pardy. “It’s up to the complainant to chose who can testify,” Cousineau said, after pointing out that Pardy and Carlin Sandor, the two women who had been sitting at a table with Broomsgrove at Zesty’s, had testified. “We have evidence about why Ms. Broomsgrove did not testify which I mentioned in a pre-hearing conference”, adding that it was “on the advice of her doctor”.  Cousineau could be heard catching her breath, just as she had been doing at the beginning of her closing arguments, before she settled in and calmly rhymed off Earle’s insults about a “strap-on dildo”, “c*nts”, women who “must be on the rag”, and a “fat and ugly” lesbian who “no man will f*ck.” 

No “adverse” inference should be drawn from Broomsgrove’s failure to testify, Cousineau told Geiger-Adams.

An adverse inference should definitely be drawn.  That was the position of Sam Ismail, who was repesenting his brother Salam Ismail, Zesty’s owner, who can’t afford a lawyer. Sam Ismail pointed out in slightly broken English, “Ms. Broomsgrove was the one that was most insulted by the words”, and Cousineau has been “bringing them up all the time”.  “So I wonder why Ms. Broomsgrove didn’t put the complaint forward and sue Salam.”

At the end of closing arguments, Cousineau requested that the Tribunal award Pardy $10,000 for discrimination based on “sex and sexual orientation”, and it’s after effects.

janefromvancouver is a contributor to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

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