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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Beaten up for being fat – BBC One's Inside Out follows the fight for fat civil rights in the UK

Inside Out London on 19 October, BBC One, 7.30pm, explores the burgeoning fat civil rights movement led by London mum, Kathryn Szrodecki.

Kathyrn wants the UK to follow in the footsteps of the USA where some states have laws to protect fat people from discrimination.

Kathryn, who describes herself as "fat and proud", wants the capital's Mayor, Boris Johnson, to take inspiration from these US laws and bring in legal protection for fat Britons.

In her quest to find equality for larger people, Kathryn meets Marsha Coupe, the victim of a horrific and unprovoked attack on public transport – and all because of her size.

Returning home from visiting her husband in hospital, where he was having treatment for cancer, Marsha was set upon and beaten just because of the way she looks. The photographs showing the bruising she sustained from the attack are truly shocking.

Marsha says: "I was returning home one night on a train and a woman sat across from me started kicking me, and said: 'Hey fatty! Look at you! You should not be on this train, you need two seats!'; kicking me, slapping me – I'm astonished. I had probably 30-40 bruises over my chest my neck. I was terrified I was going to lose the eye."

She adds: "London prides itself on being enormously diverse. It won the Olympics on such diversity and yet there is almost zero tolerance on anyone of size. You cannot walk the streets without being verbally or physically assaulted."

Yet, in the USA, Kathryn finds a very different story. She meets Marilyn Wann, a campaigner who helped win the law that now bans fat discrimination in San Francisco, and lawyer Sondra Solovav, who helped draft the new law banning size discrimination in housing and employment.

But not everyone is happy with this new law. Kathryn speaks to Dr Dean Ornish, who practices in San Francisco.

He argues that a change in law was unnecessary: "It's silly to talk about a law about the right to be fat. You have the right to be fat, the right to be fat, sick, depressed and unhappy. You don't need a law to do that, the question is why would you want to be?

"What concerns me is that it encourages and implies there is no choice... it's all written in stone, in the genes when, in fact, our studies show your body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself and change."

BBC London Publicity

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