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Should Holiday Destinations be Biased against Gay Clients

Do you want to know a secret? Later this year I’m intending to propose to my girlfriend and – if she says, “Yes!” – we’re going to get married in 2008. Big deal? Well, as I’m a woman, it would appear to be so.

The Civil Partnership Act (2004) came into operation on 5 December 2005. So lesbian and gay honeymoons are a new growth travel area in the UK. Last year, Out Now Consulting estimated that the gay weddings, honeymoon and holiday market could be worth up to 600m to the travel industry. But our traditional holiday companies are being really slow to catch up. Flicking through honeymoon brochures the other day, I was shocked to see that they are still 100% straight. No gays in the (honeymoon) village, then?

Magazines and guidebooks are notoriously slow to put together, so I turned to the internet and started surfing: looking for all the potentially gorgeous places that my girlfriend and I could go and laze around in our bikinis, and enjoy those precious first weeks of wedded bliss.

Key West has more gay folk per square metre than most places, but try entering “gay honeymoon” in, say, the Virgin search engine. And don’t expect much back.

Isn’t this a teensy-bit insulting? Why don’t these big operators seem to want our pink pounds? Isn’t it time to take off the old-fashioned blinkers and wake up to the 21st century world of equality and diversity?

While we in the UK are experiencing liberalisation, it’s sad to say that many holiday destinations are not gay-friendly, and some are dangerously gay hostile. The Caribbean – straight honeymoon heaven – probably wouldn’t be a first choice for gay couples? The last thing you want on your honeymoon is to be gay-bashed, so it’s really important that this, the most special holiday of a lifetime, be properly researched, arranged and managed by professional companies.

While we wait for the big boys to catch up, the independent agents, such as Sappho Travel have an open-field and traditional gay destinations – like Lesbos and Mykonos – definitely seem to be benefiting from lesbian and gay couples saying “I do” (I do, I do, I do, I do, I do … )

Lesbos, the birthplace of the world’s first lesbian – the poet Sappho – was becoming a bit of a clich but in the past two years new cash has meant that the women-only hotels in the resort of Skala Eressos have been given a face-lift.

This new Lesbos website suggests that the future’s looking very bright and glamorous for lesbian newly-marrieds.

But isn’t it a shame that we have this honeymoon apartheid – if only to stay safe – this segregation between straight and gay? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if love were love, no matter whether it’s a bride and groom, two brides or two grooms. Couldn’t we all just go on holiday together and have a great time? Shouldn’t gays be included in the mainstream travel brochures?

When my girlfriend and I look in the 2008 honeymoon brochures (fingers crossed), I really hope that we will feel welcomed and find our dream holiday.