Wish you weren't here: What the Devon hotel landlady told gay David and Bryn
Sunday 16 October 2005
Arriving at the award-winning Pine Lodge guest house, the couple explained that they had reserved a double room and were looking forward to discovering the surrounding West Lyn Valley. The response was curt: gay men were not welcome.
Such discrimination is still not illegal and is far from rare. The problem runs so deep that VisitBritain has drawn up a code of conduct for affiliated hotels and guest houses that explicitly bans what has come to be called "hotel homophobia".
And while tourism industry leaders market the UK as gay-friendly, they are receiving more and more complaints from couples who have been turned away from hotels and b&bs.
Pine Lodge, in Lynton, is run by Malcolm and Pat Davies, and has four stars from the AA and the English Tourism Council, which also bestowed a Silver Award upon it.
Mr Allard, 37, said Mrs Davies was shocked when she realised that he and Mr Hughes were gay. "She said we should have told them we were gay so they could warn the other guests - it would upset them." Mr Davies told the men: "I won't have two men sharing a bed. This is my house."
Mr Allard said they felt "knocked sideways", and found accommodation elsewhere.
When The Independent on Sunday asked for an explanation, Mrs Davies referred us to a solicitor, who said, "... this matter has been dealt with in a robust and professional manner by the appropriate bodies and a line drawn under it."
Michael Cashman, the Labour MEP and former EastEnders actor, said he and his partner, Paul, had once been refused a double room at a hotel in Leeds. "When Paul turned up, the woman at reception said: 'Oh my God, it's a double bed.' If I hadn't been so determined, they would have thrown us out."
The writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig had a similar experience. At a Glasgow hotel, she and her partner were told it was illegal for them to share a double room. They demanded to know which law forbade them sleeping together. The hotel relented.
And last summer, a gay couple from London were refused a double room at Cromasaig guest house in Wester Ross, Scotland. Tom Forrest, the owner, later said: "There is no way on earth I'll allow poofs, sorry, homosexuals, to share a double room in my house."
Ben Summerskill, of the gay rights group Stonewall, said: "There used to be signs saying 'no blacks, no Irish, no dogs'. It is shocking it is still legal to put signs up saying 'no gays'. We are calling on the Government to amend the Equality Bill to sort this out." The Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by David Greene
THE PHONE CALL
'The Independent on Sunday' last week tried to book a room for a gay couple at Maesyllan, Boncath, Pembrokeshire. This is what happened...
IoS: "I wondered if you had a double room available for any two nights, from the 14 November onwards?"
OWNER, LIZ BOLDERSTON: "The 14 November, for two nights?"
MRS BOLDERSTON: "Yes. Hold on for a second, I'll go and get our book ... So it was for a double ensuite room?"
MRS BOLDERSTON: "OK. Would you prefer a double ensuite bathroom or shower? I'll give you the choice because we haven't got anybody staying that week."
IoS: "OK, probably the bathroom. Can I just check - it would be for my partner, Tom, and me. Is that OK?"
MRS BOLDERSTON: "Your partner, Tom. Right. So, do you want a twin, would you like a twin room?"
IoS: "A double if possible."
MRS BOLDERSTON: "A double. Right. OK. Hmm, we'll see ... I'll just check a minute about the whole thing. We're actually doing big alterations at the moment." (Long pause.) "I'm sure you can hear all the bangings and things that are going on in the background. I don't think we're going to be able to manage that."
IoS: "Ah. OK."
MRS BOLDERSTON: "OK?"
IoS: "OK. Thank you for your time anyway."
MRS BOLDERSTON: "Bye."
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