I must admit that I had NO IDEA what a chutney ferret was until I read this story in today's Independent. It seems it is an abusive term for a homosexual, and in this case the gay man who was called a "chutney ferret" has won substantial damages from his employer.
Now then, here's the killer fact; It transpires that at no time was the gay employee called this name to his face. In fact, he only discovered third hand, from a colleague, that the manager had allegedly called him "a f******* chutney ferret"!
On this basis, the Employment tribunal sitting in Brighton - that Mecca of gayness for the south coast of England - found that that his dignity had been violated and thus he was awarded £10,000.
As a result of this decision, homophobic language must not be permitted in the workplace. Doesn't it appear that homosexuals are being singled out to get special status - they are the minority group that we all have to care deeply about not to offend. Of course it is wrong to abuse someone at their place of work because of what they may get up to in their private life - but it's also time for a reality check. Offices and factories revolve around petty gossip - most of it total nonsense! It seems to me that what lies behind this decision is to elevate homosexuals to the peak of the "most sinned against" pyramid and frankly, I don't see why we should accept that. Is it OK to discuss heterosexuals lifestyles in a sarcastic way? What about lazy people and their dignity? How about stupid people, it's their lifestyle choice to be thick after all so why can't we just accept it?
Can we make laws that outlaw all conversation in the workplace lest some group or sect somewhere takes offence?