Louisa Wall: "Their personal views are their own business except when they choose to exercise them in circumstances that run foul of the law of this country." The architect of New Zealand’s most recent GLBTI rights legislation says Pilgrim Planet’s attempt to justify discrimination on the basis that a law passed almost 20 years ago is unjust and immoral is "disingenuous". After turning a lesbian couple away from their Whangarei lodge because they “don’t make provision for sodomy”, Michael and Karen Ruskin have placed a statement about their personal views on New Zealand’s human rights legislation on their website. “Essentially parliament's concern is matters legal and the peoples' concern is matters moral. When these line up we have peace and harmony but when politicians legislate against morality, a disconnect occurs," they say. “Unjust laws need to be questioned for if we fail to do this we will become corrupted by the law instead of edified by it." Rainbow Labour MP and GLBTI rights advocate Louisa Wall, whose marriage equality Bill was passed last month, says the couple appears to have chosen to make an issue based on their personal beliefs, despite the fact that they advertise and offer a service to the public generally. "However they do not include members of the GLBTI community as part of the public," she says. "Their personal views are their own business except when they choose to exercise them in circumstances that run foul of the law of this country." Under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone in the provision of goods and services because of their sexual orientation. Wall points out this law has been in force since 1993. She says the moment the operators of Pilgrim Planet set up their business offering accommodation they were bound to educate themselves about their legal responsibilities when they offer accommodation to the public for a price. "To attempt to justify discrimination on the basis that a law passed almost 20 years ago is unjust and immoral is disingenuous," she says. "It is disappointing that people choosing to enter the hospitality industry consider legislating for non-discrimination and equality under the law is legislating against morality. "I would think most people and the United Nations would see it very differently. As Nelson Mandela said ‘To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity’ and that is what the operators of Pilgrim Planet have done in taking the action they have against the lesbian couple who had made a booking for the night." The Human Rights Commission is looking into the Pilgrim Planet case.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Tuesday, 14th May 2013 - 11:35am
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