When heterosexuals plan and book a holiday destination, they never expect to encounter the resistance and entrance refusal that many gay clients experience. Traditionally it was expected that honeymooners requesting the bridal suite were indeed heterosexual, and resorts like Sandals never anticipated gay couples canoodling on their beaches or in their restaurants.
Gay couples have existed since time began and most of us were content to tolerate them on vacation as long as they were discreet. For the most part the old adage of out of sight, out of mind’ remained the status quo. Now with gay couples having the legal right to marry in Canada since 2006, and just recently in some US states, they have begun demanding the same holiday rights as the heterosexual couples.
While we never like anyone to be biased against gay clients, holiday tour operators including hotel and motel owners who specifically market their destinations to heterosexual newly weds or married couples, never anticipated having gay clients demand to stay at their facilities. Now they are left in a dilemma over exactly what to do. While some have made some concessions, including installing honeymoon suites just for gay couples or marketing certain weeks of the year when the facilities are available to gay couples, many have not.
Under constitutional law, hanging a sign outside or posting no gay clients or couples permitted’ on websites leads to lawsuits and sometimes boycotts by outraged heterosexuals who then take their holiday’s elsewhere. When gay couples show up unannounced at holiday destinations, they have on some occasions been banned from the facilities, which leaves hotels open to further law suits.
Other hotel and motel operators have seen a way to increase business and profits by specifically marketing honeymoon and couples packages to the gay community. In particular, where gay marriages are now permitted, many tour operators put together whole packages including honeymoon accommodations at a hotel or bed and breakfast for out of town newlyweds. In Canada, where USA and European gay couples continue to marry, many small tourism operators have seen their businesses boom by targeting their business and welcoming them.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of anyone suffering discrimination. However we have to question whether refusing gay clients violates their rights when so many States and countries do not acknowledge them as a legal couple? If a gay couple show up at a holiday destination and the couple’s status is unrecognized, how are we violating their sexual rights by asking them to stay somewhere else? It’s a slippery slope. No-one wants to see gay couples or newlyweds segregated, or relegated to the worst motel/hotel room so that they remain invisible. Clarity is needed.
Gay clients have always been part of the tourism industry, just as resistance and discretion in dealing with them has existed. That said, I do believe any holiday destination should be allowed to run their business the way they want, as long as it is legal.
The legal aspect is the area that requires clarification.