Controversy arising over Utah mall code of conduct

by Ryly Larrinaga

SALT LAKE CITY – With the recent opening of the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City, reports of homosexual couples being escorted off mall property have arisen, creating controversy between citizens and mall officials.

The mall, which became open to the public on March 22, 2012, has received numerous complaints in regards to people being asked to leave the shopping center because of what they are doing.

However, City Creek officials are denying these rumors and attribute it to an exaggeration of the City Creek Center code of conduct that has been instated.

Hanna Kirsten, a student at the University of Utah and frequent City Creek Center shopper, feels that the code of conduct is often times exaggerated and made to seem over-the-top. Until, she witnessed mall security escorting two men off mall property that had been publicly kissing and holding hands.

“It was definitely interesting to see the reaction of the two men who were asked to leave. They looked devastated… It was saddening to watch,” said Kirsten.

Kirsten also said that she left the mall immediately after the situation occurred, mainly because she felt uncomfortable with the attention it caused from surrounding mall attendees.

“It’s not everyday that you see two men being escorted off premises for displaying affection. Especially, when the heterosexual couple next to you is doing the same thing, if not, even more inappropriately and over-the-top,” said Kirsten.

The code of conduct, which is posted on the City Creek Center website, states“…management reserves the right to prohibit any activity or conduct which is detrimental to or inconsistent with a first-class, family oriented shopping center.”

Although, nowhere in the code of conduct does it mention that public displays of affection are prohibited, regardless of the person’s sexual orientation.

“We will not tolerate any activity in terms of people not treating others with respect. Period,” said Karen MacDonald, a Taubman spokesperson, in a QSaltLake magazine interview.

MacDonald also said, “City Creek Center is a place for everyone and we want everyone to come here and have a great experience. There have been precious few times that we’ve had to speak to someone about their conduct in the Center and I have to say the experience has been very positive overall.”

Many are blaming the situation on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming that the church is responsible for enforcing the code of conduct and creating an unequal environment.

Taubman Centers, Inc., manages the mall property and says that the Mormon Church has not had a say or influence in creating the shopping center rules.

For Robert Yorgason, who was raised LDS and openly revealed eight years ago that he is gay, thinks the situation has just created an opportunity for people to protest and cause a scene.

“It is immature when you see people exaggerate the extent of a situation to raise awareness to a greater issue, it just gives us (homosexuals) a bad reputation,” said Yorgason.

City Creek Center currently has an appeals process in place and if patrons feel they have been unfairly targeted, mall management wants to hear about it, said MacDonald.