Rights advocates for people with Down syndrome yesterday accepted an apology from McDonald’s over an incident in which a woman with Down syndrome was expelled from a Greater Kaohsiung restaurant this week, but said they regretted that the fast food chain denied that it was a case of discrimination.
“We were relieved to learn that McDonald’s apologized in a press conference in Kaohsiung. That meant our kids and supporters could end their protest under the merciless sun [outside the McDonald’s headquarters in Taipei],” said Lin Cheng-hsia (林正俠), chairman of the Care Association for People with Down Syndrome.
“However, we are not satisfied that we have been given the full facts of the incident,” Lin said.
“I think we should learn from our kids [with Down syndrome] and forgive them [McDonald’s],” Lin said, adding that the decision to accept the apology was taken because he and other advocates did not want to spend any more resources on the issue.
Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), secretary-general of the Alliance for Handicapped People, said although McDonald’s denied it, “it certainly was discrimination.”
“There are people out there who may be physically or mentally different. We may not be accustomed to talking with them or being with them, but we should always respect them,” Wang said.
“I think this incident is a very good opportunity for us, and for society as a whole, to learn a lesson,” Wang Jung-chang said.
A woman with Down syndrome, surnamed Wang (王), went to a McDonald’s in Greater Kaohsiung earlier this week and asked for an ice cream.
The store manager called the police, saying that a homeless person was in the restaurant shouting and harassing other customers.
When police officers arrived, they saw Wang quietly standing in the restaurant.
They said the manager admitted that there was no homeless person harassing customers and that he just wanted them to remove Wang from the restaurant.
McDonald’s initially declined to apologize, but as public pressure mounted, along with threats of a boycott, company representative Lu Hsiao-hui (盧小慧) officially apologized on Wednesday.