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Elderly lesbian sues senior home for not protecting her from discrimination

Elderly lesbian sues senior home for not protecting her from discrimination

Marsha Wetzel

A 70-year-old lesbian is accusing her senior living centre of doing nothing to stop the homophobic abuse she faced.

Marsha Wetzel was living in Glen St. Andrew Living Community.

It is a senior living centre in suburban Chicago, US.

Wetzel claims fellow residents would shout homophobic slurs at her and spit on her.

One resident told Wetzel that ‘homosexuals will burn in hell.’

Filings by Wetzel’s attorneys allege resident rammed Wetzel’s scooter with a walker.

Wetzel toppled over and bruised her arm.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit last year.

Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan said Wetzel had not shown that the senior home displayed ‘any discriminatory animus, motive or intent.’

But Wetzel took the case to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel heard the case on Tuesday in which Wetzel claims Glen St. Andrew failed to protect her.

They could send the case back to district court.

If that happens, the lawsuit could clarify that sexual orientation is a form of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

Karen Loewy is Wetzel’s attorney.

Glen St. Andrew’s attorney argued the senior living centre did not discriminate against Wetzel.

Their case claims they offered Wetzel medical when she was pushed over.

She allegedly refused this care.

Glen St. Andrew

Loewy claims Glen St. Andrew had the power to stop residents mistreating Wetzel and failed to do so.

Wetzel’s statement explains: ‘I felt completely scared and helpless when the people in charge at Glen St. Andrew would not protect me, but the idea that they don’t think they have to protect anyone is shocking.

‘The elderly deserve to be treated with respect and to feel safe no matter who they are or who they loved and I’m going to fight for us.’

Her lawsuit says she was attacked from behind, knocked off her scooter and called derogatory names between April 2015 and July 2016.

Lisa Hausten is the attorney for Glen St. Andrews.

She argues Wetzel’s complaint with the living home is that it ‘did not promptly intervene in her squabbles.’

Hausten adds the Fair Housing Act is meant to ensure equality in housing, ‘not a vehicle to regulate disputes among neighbors.’

Glen St. Andrew’s attorney says five months after Wetzel moved into the house she began ‘quarreling’ with a ‘crotchety senior resident.’

It is expected the panel will make their decision regarding the case over the next few weeks.