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At the start of Gay Pride week, fashion consultant and television personality Tim Gunn wrote a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio saying that horse-drawn carriages are cruel, and that some of the drivers are homophobic and rude.

Gunn, a longtime animal rights activist and a strong advocate for gay rights, wrote to the mayor telling him that, “I’m proud to live in Manhattan, it can be a haven of tolerance, but the carriage drivers are warping it into a hotbed of hate. Bullies such as the drivers in these videos disregard not only the suffering of animals but also the basic rights of New Yorkers.”

“I’m among the 30,000 New York City PETA members who applaud your plan to retire the carriage horses. However, as we await a City Council bill, I urge you to address the relentless, hateful bigotry that’s thriving in the city’s tiny horse-drawn carriage trade,” wrote Gunn.

The letter was also copied to the City Council’s gay caucus and references a July 2012 incident in which one of the drivers verbally taunted an elderly, mixed race lesbian with the n-word and quipped “are you here for that dyke convention?” As a result of that incident, then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn strongly rebuked the horse-drawn carriage industry and the union representing the carriage drivers agreed to require drivers to undergo anti-discrimination training. A third incident caught on tape shows a carriage driver and stable owner hurling vulgar racist and sexist taunts at a young Latina.

Gunn continues by suggesting that “[a]s NYC Pride approaches, I ask you to watch this video, taken just last month, showing the latest anti-gay tirade from a carriage driver. It happened on May 23, when driver Omer Biyikoglu called a concerned passerby a “faggot,” among other antagonistic slurs, when questioned about whether it was legal to tie his horse to a light post in the midst of midtown traffic. Instead of answering the question, the smirking driver declared, “I don’t f-ck guys,” and walked away.

Gunn, who is currently filming a new season of ‘Project Runway,’ is the latest notable New Yorker to support retiring the city’s horse-drawn carriages. Other celebrities include singers Pink and Lea Michele, actors Alec Baldwin and Peter Dinklage, and comedian and television host Bill Maher, to name just a few.

Gunn points out to de Blaiso that although he sounded so adamant about ending the horse-drawn carriage industry before his election, not much has been done since.

“You have spoken so lucidly on this issue since before your election, but since you took office, there have been accidents causing continued animal suffering and threatening public safety,” he wrote. “One driver falsified department of health records in order to force an old asthmatic horse to work, and another was arrested for making a horse pound the pavement despite a painful hoof infection,” he added.

Gunn ends his letter asking the mayor the question that has been on everyone’s mind, as to when we can expect him “to get these abused horses off the streets?”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About Joan Reddy

Joan Reddy is a professional photographer, writer, animal rights activist, and environmentalist. Joan holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and a Masters of Environmental Studies from York University, in Toronto, where her thesis focused on Animal Rights. Through her writing, Joan wants to help to educate the public about the way animals are abused and exploited, in cultures around the world. Joan is also founder and president of the Federal registered non-profit organization "International Communication for Animal Justice." Her organization's website can be found at www.internationalcommunicationforanimaljustice.org, and her professional profile on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/joan-reddy/22/999/449.

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  • JR Johnson

    This will get me critique, but homosexuals/lesbians are a group based on sexual conduct and we must find cure for homosexuality because homosexual/lesbian sexual conduct is bad for health. Homofobia is telling truths, theories and speculations which offend homosexual groups. While they have not conclusively proven homosexuality/lesbianism is inborn genes, homosexual groups often use this theory as definite by saying how they are born this way-which possibly can be the case for some but more studies are needed. But when facts are raised about the link between childhood sex abuse and a kid doing homosexual and lesbian activities in adutlhood, homosexual groups often get offended, condemn it as homofobia.

    With homosexuality being found among animals, cannibalism, stealing, etc. are also found among them, so it’s a bad idea to say that because animals do something people do. It’s best for gays/lesbians to be celibate until cure is found for this. No gays, don’t choose orientation, but they choose their sexual behavior.

    Any facts which show homosexuality/lesbianism to be bad and put negative views on this is condemned. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking is and needs to be marginalized like smoking is. People who engage in homosexual/lesbian conduct have more medical problems caused by homosexual/lesbian conduct. I believe the negative views of homosexual/lesbian conduct is the right view because there is something wrong with homosexual/lesbian conduct and they must make it a crime to do sex changes. I know my view offends homosexuals, but most smokers do not get offended by negative views of tobacco use. So homosexuals/lesbians have to hear others give negative views of their sex lives, because there is something wrong with this just as there’s something wrong with smoking.

    Yes, it’s a proven fact that childhood sex abuse is a major cause of homosexual/lesbian conduct in adulthood. Anybody who denies the link is dishonest, delusional or both. Never have I heard straights blame childhood sex abuse for reasons a man has sex with a woman and fathers children with her. Yet sometimes have heard gays and lesbians say childhood sex abuse is reason they do same sex behaviors.Any conduct can be learned and this includes sexual conduct. There are homosexuals and lesbians who say that childhood sex abuse (especially those who are victims of a gay priest) are reasons why they think they do same sex behaviors in adulthood. Had they not been repeatedly molested, would they have turned out straight instead of gay or lesbian? It doesn’t take an expert to know that sex abuse in youth can mess up the mind and cause people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. Of course, not all who are sexually abused in youth become gay in adulthood-but the risk is higher.

    A kid can become a mugger by living in high crime neighborhood, seeing muggings in childhood and learning this conduct. Yes, there are muggers who were not raised in high crime neighborhoods but still became muggers, but that does not rule out other causes. Many emphysema victims did not smoke and were not exposed to 2nd hand smoke and got emphysema due to bad genes but it would be dishonest to deny truth that if a person smokes, he or she is more likely to get emphysema. Since homosexuals and lesbians (transexuals) often suffered childhood sex abuse, it’s no surprise that homosexuals and lesbians think childhood sexual abuse is OK when it’s homosexual activities. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking is and needs to be marginalized like smoking is.They must abolish sex change maimings. All transexuals are homosexual/lesbian as the act of mutilating to become false opposite sex is itself an act of homosexuality/lesbianism-sad maiming and make this illegal.

    Finally, sex change maimings which is mutilating some1 to make them fake members of opposite sex is comparable to trying to make a man a fake animal because he thinks he is an animal trapped in a human body. Most feminists are not speaking against this. 1 would hope that feminists would oppose the mutilation that happened to Chastity Sun Bono as feminists have spoken against Female Genital Mutilation which happens in some nations. Transexuals are mutilations which no Dr. should take part in, yet most feminists are not condemning this female genital and breast mutilation as what happened to Chastity S. Bono where her healthy breasts were mutilated, dangerous hormone shots and her genitals mutilated.