|Beside the seaside - but what kind of welcome awaits? |
There's nothing better than setting off for a short break down to the
But how warm is the welcome if you're a homosexual couple?
Inside Out investigates hotel homophobia in the South West of England.
Matthew Hodson and his boyfriend Aruan decided to leave
London behind for a friend's wedding in Somerset.
But the reception at the
hotel where he and his partner were staying was less than welcoming.
recalls what happened, "The owner said to us 'we're not having you here,
we're not having you under our roof'".
Matthew had booked a double
room in advance.
"The chap looked around and he was like 'where's your
wife?'... and I'm like 'I'm sorry, no it's me and my partner Aruan
was like 'no no no, not having that here not under my roof' and he just told us
to get out".
It was 10.30pm on a Friday night - and the couple had
no car, no room and where stranded in the middle of nowhere.
was just really upset - he was in tears, and he wanted to go home. It was difficult
because it turned what should have been a really lovely weekend for everyone into
something which had started off really badly," Matthew recalls.
denying Matthew a bed for the night, this hotel wasn't breaking the law.
cannot refuse guests on the grounds of race, gender or disability but it's not
illegal to bar someone if they're gay.
|The pink pound could bring huge benefits to South West tourism|
In the work place gay people are protected from discrimination by law
- in the rest of their lives they're not.
Alan Wardle from Stonewall explains
the extent of the problem, "We've had cases of people refused by their doctors,
refused insurance and accommodation".
According to South West Tourism
people being refused accommodation because of their sexuality is rare, but all
cases are looked into.
Robin Barker, Deputy Chief Executive of South West
Tourism, says, "We would investigate... the ultimate sanction would be that
we'd exclude that business from marketing activities".
pink pound has always been a lucrative market for tourism.
2005, gay couples will have another reason to visit the South West - to get married.
will be able to have civil partnership ceremonies, which is clearly good news
for Cornwall and its tourism business.
Many hotels and venues in the South
West are keen to cash in on the power of the pink pound.
Inside Out decided
to test how welcoming South West hotels really are.
On May Bank Holiday
BBC journalist David Allard travelled with his boyfriend Bryn to North Devon.
They booked in at Pine Lodge in Lynton.
"We were literally just over
the threshold when Mrs Davies came out of the office and said you didn't tell
me you'd booked a room for two men. I would have given you a twin room if I'd
known," he recalls.
"I then challenged why it was an issue for
her and was told 'you've got to understand we're running a business here. You
should have let us know in advance so we could warn our guests'. I immediately
thought what kind of people do you think we are."
David Allard says,
"We felt humiliated, angry, shell-shocked, disgusted really by the reception
we'd been given".
Although the Davies's didn't ask David to leave,
he decided he couldn't stay at Pine Lodge - so he asked for a refund.
had that experience, we then felt completely paranoid where ever we went... quite
frankly we couldn't wait to get home".
He wrote to Visit Britain the
company who assesses the quality of South West accommodation, and they visited
Pine Lodge to investigate the complaint.
Essentially, Mr and Mrs Davies
stated that while they were certainly 'uncomfortable' with the situation, they
believe that they were not rude and that they did not refuse the couple accommodation
at any point.
On the contrary, their full expectation was that you were
going to stay at Pine Lodge until the couple asked for a refund.
Mr and Mrs Davies for an interview - they declined but told us:
"As far as we are concerned this matter has been dealt with in a robust
and professional manner by the appropriate bodies and a 'line drawn under it".
just how easy it is for a gay couple to book a double room in the South West?
We phoned 30 randomly chosen hotels and guest houses in Devon and
Although the majority were more than happy to take us, when given
the option one declined.
South West Tourism says that it is in constant
liaison with the assessment bodies and encourages them to take account of changes
in visitor expectations that take place year on year.
Despite this move
to better reflect the changing needs of today's society, until the law itself
is changed, hotels can still exclude gay couples for being gay.
of Stonewall believes that the Government needs to take action:
"The Government have the perfect opportunity to change the law by closing
the loop hole in a bill that's currently going through parliament but so far they
haven't indicated they will."
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