Blind man and his dog refused entry to Melbourne restaurant
A Melbourne restaurant has been forced to issue an apology for refusing to allow entry to a blind man and his guide dog.
Hamish MacKenzie said he and a friend went to Green Pepper restaurant, in Bourke Street, but were told they were not welcome because Mr MacKenzie had his guide dog, Jimmy, with him.
"I wandered in, the waitress saw the dog and said 'no. you can't bring the dog in here'," he said.
Mr MacKenzie said he tried to explain to the woman that by law guide dogs are allowed to enter any public place, but she still refused him entry.
He said the discussion with staff dragged on for so long that his colleague became frustrated and insisted they leave.
Diners at a table nearby who witnessed the incident were also disgusted and they too got up and left.
"It's frustrating not just for me, but for anyone I'm with," he said. "You feel a bit like a second class citizen having to wait for permission to eat in a restaurant.
"It's a right I have to take my dog anywhere and I should be able to do that."
To make matters worse, Mr MacKenzie said it is not the first time he has been turned away from the restaurant.
"I thought enough is enough," he said. "I've been coming here for five years and they should know me by now."
Mr MacKenzie said he felt so discriminated against, he decided to go public with the latest complaint.
He said people need to get a grip on the laws about registered guide dogs and access rights to public places.
Guide dogs are permitted in all public places, including restaurants and cafes, and denying access to a person with a visual impairment is a criminal offence under state and federal laws.
"They need to educate their staff that it is a blind person's right to come in and have a meal just like anyone else," he said.
"I shouldn't have to be put through the embarrassment of standing around and waiting to go in and eat."
The manager of the restaurant was unable to explain what took place last night, but has issued an apology to Mr MacKenzie.
He says he and Jimmy are allowed to dine at the restaurant at any time.