BFI apologises after woman with Asperger’s kicked out of cinema
Tamsin Parker was verbally abused by some audience members for laughing during film screening
The British Film Institute has apologised after a woman with Asperger’s syndrome was forcibly removed from its London Southbank cinema for “laughing too loudly”.
In what onlookers described as a “disgusting” sign of “naked intolerance”, Tamsin Parker was forced to leave a screening of 1966 spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Guardian reports. She was there celebrating her 25th birthday with two friends when she was marched out by staff, on Sunday.
Parker, an artist and animator, told the London Evening Standard that she had been “laughing and having a good time” with her friends, who are also on the autistic spectrum, when she became aware that the noise was annoying some audience members. “l didn’t understand what I was doing wrong,” she added.
According to the newspaper, when Parker tried to explain that she is autistic, a member of the audience shouted “you’re retarded”, while another told her to “shut up, b****”.
She was then asked to leave after a complaint was lodged about her.
The BBC reports that despite the abuse Parker faced, many cinemagoers walked out in protest at the way she was treated.
But other members of the audience applauded as she was removed, her mother, Lydia Parker, told The Guardian.
“She was in floods of tears. She was really scared. She was completely humiliated and it ruined her birthday,” she said. “It would be nice to arrange a screening for Tamsin and her friends. The manager did not seem very apologetic at the time.”
The BFI apologised yesterday, saying that the organisation had “got it wrong” in a “challenging and complex situation”.
“We are taking this situation extremely seriously and this morning we have been investigating further,” said a BFI statement. “We can and must do better in accommodating all the needs of our customers and we will be addressing what additional provisions and staff training we can put in place.”