What connects a Scottish church, a cruise ship company and shamed musician R Kelly, you may ask – not unreasonably.
The answer lies with the Reverend Teri Peterson, from St John’s Church in Gourock in Inverclyde, who has lodged a grievance against Carnival Cruise Line after returning from an eight-day trip.
The clergywoman lambasted cruise line staff after a row over the playing of R Kelly’s music in the nightclub of the Carnival Magic cruise liner, which set sail from Miami.
Several members of the “RevGalBlogPals” – an international online community that supports female clergy members and of which Peterson is chair – were onboard.
The reverend said the group’s trip was severely impacted when the ship’s DJ refused to stop playing music from the American artist, who is currently the subject of multiple allegations of sexual assaults against women and underage girls.
“The DJ started to play R Kelly and was asked by our group to put it off because of everything surrounding the singer,” she said.
“He refused and then began singing and dancing along and mocking us”.
Peterson said the women left the club but were again “mocked” by the same DJ later that night.
In a statement, seen by HuffPost UK, Peterson said: “I don’t want anyone to have the experience our group members had, of being harassed by staff and dismissed by those meant to help, but I also don’t want people who come here to have their experiences of the west of Scotland marred by racist or sexist experiences on the ship that brought them here.”
The next time the DJ saw the group in the club, he played and sang along to Blurred Lines by US singer Robin Thicke while looking at them, Peterson said.
Critics of the song have slammed it as being misogynistic, sexist and promoting rape culture.
Peterson alleges the management on the ship did not take the concerns voiced by her group seriously because they were initially raised by black women.
Carnival Cruise Line is now being called on to update its training protocols, review how complaints are handled and look again at the music played on ships.
The firm told HuffPost UK that the group’s concerns were “listened to” by its onboard team and a goodwill gesture was offered.
A spokesperson said: “We had a small group of guests who took issue with two songs that our DJ was playing in a nightclub well after midnight.
“While we only play radio versions of popular music that have been sanitised so that offensive language has been removed, we do not make a habit of banning music as we have a broad cross section of guests.
“We are proud of the many ways we’ve been recognised for our commitment to diversity and inclusion and every day we work to make sure our guests and crew feel welcome and part of the Carnival family. We’re sorry this group feels otherwise.”