NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Apology after 'homophobic' comments at iconic Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen

Marcliffe

The owner of an Aberdeen hotel has apologised after making what were described as "homophobic" comments at a fundraising dinner.

Stewart Spence used a derogatory term about gay people at The Marcliffe Hotel during a Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland event.

HIT Scotland said homophobic views and comments were made about the industry and it was "shocking".

Mr Spence later said he wanted to "sincerely apologise".

He said: "I don't know what I was thinking."

'Unwelcome remarks'

A source who was at the dinner said "jaws dropped" at the use of the word "poofs" on Thursday night.

It related to a claim of the hotel industry having a history of employing gay or lesbian workers and Mr Spence having not employed any.

A spokesperson for HIT Scotland said: "We strongly disagree with the homophobic views and comments expressed by one individual at last night's Grampian fundraising dinner, they were a complete surprise and as shocking as they were inaccurate to the truth of the hospitality industry.

"Hospitality is a diverse and inclusive industry, it has consistently led the way on equality and diversity above and beyond any other sector and that is something we take great pride in.

"We would like to reassure everyone that his offensive comments were his own and in no way representative of the opinions of HIT Scotland or indeed the hospitality industry as a whole. It was very regretful that he chose an event in aid of the industry to make such unwelcome remarks.

"Despite these comments, the event went on to be another successful evening of fundraising for the charity and we want to thank our guests for their continued generosity that helped raise a considerable amount last night."

'Truly sorry'

Mr Spence told BBC Scotland in a statement: "I made some very ill-advised comments at the dinner last night and I am absolutely mortified today.

"I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused. I don't know what I was thinking.

"I was hoping to raise a few laughs around the seventies theme and while the words I used may have, regrettably, been commonplace in that generation, they were still entirely unacceptable.

"The Marcliffe is an inclusive place both for staff and customers. We welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.

"I really regret this and am truly sorry."

Catherine Somerville, the campaigns, policy and research manager at Stonewall Scotland - which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people's rights - said: "The comments made at last night's event clearly demonstrate that there is a lot of work to be done before all LGBT people can feel safe and included at work, and that LGBT customers are treated fairly and with respect.

"It is really positive to see such a strong reaction against these homophobic remarks from HIT Scotland, and we will always offer support to employers across the hospitality sector who want to create more inclusive workplaces for LGBT people."

The five-star hotel - a popular venue for wedding receptions and functions - has been at its North Deeside Road venue since 1993.

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