QUEER VOICES
05/03/2017 12:37 pm ET Updated May 03, 2017

Funeral Home Sued For Allegedly Refusing To Cremate Gay Man's Body

"Discrimination in death is unacceptable."

A gay man is suing a funeral home in Mississippi, alleging that the business refused to transport and cremate the body of his 86-year-old husband after learning about his sexuality.

John “Jack” Zawadski, 82, and his nephew launched the lawsuit with the help of Lambda Legal following the death of Zawadski’s husband Robert Huskey in May 2016 due to a heart condition.

The lawsuit alleges that as Huskey’s condition worsened, Zawadski’s nephew, John Gaspari, made arrangements for transportation and cremation of his body through Picayune Funeral Home. Huskey had lived the final part of his life in a nursing home and, according to the lawsuit, following Huskey’s death “the Nursing Home relayed to John that once PFH received the paperwork indicating that Bob’s spouse was male, PFH refused service because it did not ‘deal with their kind.’”

Huskey and Zawadski had been together 52 years at the time of his death.

“When you’re finally told that a loved one is on the end of their life, you don’t want to have to be rushed into making a decision,” Gaspari says in the above Lambda Legal video. “You want to make sure that it’s carried out to their wish and it’s done properly, with dignity... Discrimination in death is unacceptable. I’m hoping that laws are changed prohibiting this from happening anywhere in the United States.”

There are currently no laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses in Mississippi.

Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell told HuffPost that this case serves as an example of what can happen when these protections don’t exist.

“This case is a stark example of the harmful consequences of living in state without anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people and where the state government instead passes laws like Mississippi’s HB 1523 that privilege those who discriminate instead of protecting the victims of discrimination,” she said. “It shows that even though same-sex couples can marry throughout the country, they remain vulnerable to discrimination from cradle to grave.”

HuffPost reached out to Picayune Funeral Home for comment but did not immediately hear back.

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