Posters ads for 'romantic couples' holidays banned from Tube for bias against gays

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The Independent Online

Ken Livingstone has rejected Tube adverts for a holiday firm which bans gays and lesbians from its Caribbean resorts. After complaints from gay groups and others, the Mayor of London has barred Sandals from advertising its "couples" hotels.

The firm ran a four-week, £200,000 campaign this year on the Tube, offering holidays for its "romantic, mixed-sex couples only" resorts. Sandals, whose slogan "Love is all you need" is seen as bitterly ironic by gays, has already been criticised for its discriminatory policy. Complaints about its stance led Barclaycard to drop the firm from its promotions.

"London Underground agreed it is not acceptable for a company with such an openly discriminatory policy to advertise on public transport in this city," Mr Livingstone said.

Barbara Roche, the former equalities minister, said: "It is clear, overt discrimination and yet the law can do nothing. If they had a policy banning black couples or Jewish couples, they wouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Why should they with gay couples?"

In Progress magazine, she said the case highlighted the urgent need for a new law banning homophobic discrimination. Regulations due this year will ban only discrimination in the workplace. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said: "It remains a disgrace that a company such as Sandals can refuse to provide a service to lesbians and gay men. All minority groups, indeed all citizens, are entitled to equal treatment."

In a statement, Sandals said: "Sandals and Beaches resorts operates 19 resorts in the Caribbean. Twelve are Sandals properties offering all-inclusive 'adult only' holidays to heterosexual couples. The Sandals concept was introduced to cater for a niche market, predominantly honeymoons and weddings. The company also operates seven Beaches Resorts, which cater for singles, families, groups, everyone."