Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are Gay-Only Guesthouses Discriminating Against Straights?

London's newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether or not guest houses that cater exclusively to gays and lesbians are discriminating against heterosexuals.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is examining whether "gay-only" guesthouses breach new laws designed to prevent people being treated unfairly in the provision of goods or services.
Last month, Christian owners of a guesthouse in Cornwall became the first to be found guilty of discrimination under equality laws after they refused to let a homosexual couple stay in a double room, in a legal action supported by the EHRC.
Now, the watchdog says it must establish an "objective balance" by considering if gays-only accommodation also defies the legislation.
Its lawyers are now investigating the issue and the EHRC says it has not ruled out taking legal action against "gay-only" hotels if they are deemed to be discriminating against heterosexuals.
However, it admits that it has not received a single complaint from the public about such establishments.
In the decades since Stonewall, gays and lesbians have created an industry built upon the idea that we deserved safe spaces of our own where we can get some R&R without being discriminated against by business owners or judged by other vacationers. What started with a few hard to find small businesses scattered around the globe has become a billion dollar a year industry that includes gay and lesbian ocean cruises, Gay Days at Disney and companies like Orbitz aggressively marketing to the queer market.

As we become more mainstreamed, are the safe havens we've created becoming archaic?

While the European countries are decades ahead of us yanks on the equality front, it's going to be decades before we're faced with those legal questions here.

I've never vacationed in an exclusively gay resort or guesthouse. The closest Paul and I got to that was on a trip to Florida several years back when we stopped into the Club Orlando, a gay-owned gym with an outdoor pool. It was our last couple of days in town, but it turned out to be the beginning of Bear Week. It was probably the most relaxing environment I have ever been in. Not only could I leave my body image issues at the door, but we could hold hands and be affectionate without thinking about it.

I would hate to see the day come when gay-only businesses become a thing of the past. You might as well ask if Curves discriminates against men for providing a safe space for women to work out without being self-conscious or getting hit on by hetero men.

Besides, as the article points out, there hasn't been a single complaint yet. You don't see crowds of heterosexuals trying to get into our businesses, with the possible exception of our bars and nightclubs.


  1. I find it oddly strange why would any straight couple want to stay at a gay guest house ? I would think they would find the sights and activities there in offensive ? thats just my assumption.

  2. I agree Brandi, but what to I know? Maybe it would be for research, to see us in our natural habitat,like on Wild Kingdom. Fortunately, this is happening in the UK and the straights in the good old USA still find us too icky to bother with.


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