A gay couple is suing the owner and manager of a chain of New York City Asian restaurants that refused to host their reception on the basis that gay partygoers are bad for “feng shui,” the ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects in space to channel metaphysical forces. According to the New York Daily News (NYDN), Newlyweds Barrett Greene and Thomas Eng are suing in a New York City court, alleging that the company violated their civil rights and has yet to return a $750 deposit.
Greene and Eng, who met on a cruise ship in 2004, had planned to have the rehearsal dinner for their wedding this summer at the Greenwich Village restaurant Amber Village, and to have their reception catered by the restaurant. In March, Greene met with manager Tommy Ho, who took the deposit for a rehearsal dinner for 40 and a reception for 200 guests.
According to the suit, things went awry a week later when Ho was summoned to the office of a senior manager at Amber Village known only as Mr. Fong. Fong, who was “visibly angry,” told Ho he didn’t want any “gay parties” booked at Amber Village.
“Fong instructed Ho to ‘make an excuse’ and tell Greene that his rehearsal dinner could not take place at Amber Village and that his wedding could not be catered by them either,” alleges the lawsuit. “Fong also told Ho that it’s ‘very bad’ for Amber Village to book ‘gay parties’ and that big groups of ‘gay partyers’ are especially bad for feng shui.”
Then Fong fired Ho, says the suit.
The NYDN was unable to reach restaurant owner Qi Yeng Lin, but quotes the manager of another Greenwich Village restaurant owned by the same company, Bo Lee, as saying, “Feng shui has to do with luck and fortune. It has to do with where do you put your plants and flowers, your furniture. It has nothing to do with who are your clients.”
Lee also that to his knowledge, the restaurant chain doesn’t discriminate against anyone.
Greene and Eng are suing for their deposit plus unspecified damages. According to the NYDN, the couple “registered at Tiffany’s” and “got married in a rooftop ceremony at the Midtown Loft and Terrace on 29th St. on June 9.”