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Lodge owner: "we don't make provision for sodomy"

Fri 10 May 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Pilgrim Planet Lodge The owners of a Whangarei lodge claim they have a right to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, because the lodge is also their home. A lesbian couple, Jane and Paula, who prefer not to give their full names, have told Daily News they were refused a king-sized bed at Whangarei’s Pilgrim Planet Lodge, as it offended the owner’s religious beliefs. They were told: “best you find accommodation elsewhere”. Read the full story here While he has not responded to Daily News, owner Michael Ruskin has told Newstalk ZB: “We always explain to them, because of our values, we don’t make provision for sodomy in our home.” There is an exception for 'shared residential accommodation' under the Human Rights Act, however this covers the likes of renters and boarders in private homes, not people staying at lodges, motels or hotels. In the UK, the Christian owner of a bed and breakfast was last year ordered to pay damages after a court found her refusal to let a gay couple stay in one of her double rooms amounted to direct discrimination and a breach of equality law. One person who had booked to stay at the lodge this weekend is withdrawing their booking and will stay elsewhere after reading about the couple’s experience. Others who have called the lodge to express their displeasure have been quickly hung up on. David Hall from local company Gay Travel, an agency which helps travellers find gay-friendly accommodation in New Zealand, called Pilgrim Planet Lodge to discuss the situation. “It’s another one,” he was told by the woman who answered, who put him on to Michael Ruskin. When he tried to express his displeasure, he says Ruskin jumped down his throat, and then hung up on him. “I think it’s an outrage, and to put the phone down on me shows they are even more bigoted,” Hall says. He believes everyone has a right to their beliefs. “But you mustn’t inconvenience people by being aloof about what those beliefs are. It stops poor people like those girls turning up and being put in this situation.” Hall says he can only imagine what would have happened if it happened on New Year’s Eve, saying the couple would not have found anywhere to stay. Numerous readers report going to hotels and being asked if they had made a mistake in booking a double or king bed, and actually needed two singles. The good news is there are plenty of gay-friendly accommodation providers in New Zealand. Hall recommends starting at the Gay Stay website or using an agency such as his. Reaction to this morning’s story (via our Facebook page): Katija Zela Vlatkovich “I wouldn't want to stay there anyway and people like that certainly won't be getting my pink dollars.” Chaz Harris: “Um...we can get married now and are equal, there is legally no justification for this than discrimination.” Aaron Comis: “Really? What is wrong with people.” Adair Author: “Simple solution .... stop hiring out lodging rooms in your own house if it offends you... bet they let unmarried opposite sexed couples share a bed ...” Doon Oxford “What these owners have done is simply against the law and therefor will get what is coming to them which is good. However that will never take away the hurt and embarrassment these women must have felt in that moment. Much love to them and much gratitude to them for not letting it slide. Thank you girls.” Lania Marie Lopez: “This is so bizarre I am so open minded that I let my straight couple friends sleep in my spare room when they visit far out beyond lady beyond.” Clinton Brooks: “Well they shouldn’t be doing bed and breakfast if they judge .” Christie Arblaster: “It would be interesting to know how many rooms have been occupied in Pilgram Planet to commit infidelity and adultery! I know which one is worse. Dishonestly turning a blind eye, or accepting two people who love each other...Open your mind and heart people...This disgusts me.” Gary A Bagg: “NZ is still living in the 19th Century!” Bronwyn Polmear: “That is horrible, those poor women!!” Have you ever had an experience like Paula and Jane? Email us:    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 10th May 2013 - 11:39am

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