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Lodge owners want decision made public

Thu 13 Jun 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Pilgrim Planet Lodge The Whangarei lodge owners accused of discriminating against a lesbian couple want the outcome of a human rights complaint made public, at the same time as they accuse the women of destroying their privacy. The Human Rights Commission will hear mediation next month on Northland couple Paula Knight and Jane Collison’s complaint that they were denied a shared bed at Pilgrim Planet, and then told they best find somewhere else to stay. Pilgrim Planet’s owners Michael and Karen Ruskin then told media it’s against their religious beliefs for gay or lesbian couples to share a bed in the lodge, where they also live, adding they didn't "make provision for sodomy". It’s up to the two parties to decide whether they want the result of the HRC case made public. Someone who says they are a ‘family spokesperson’ for the Ruskins has sent out a heated media release, stating “it is farcical to speak now of ‘privacy concerns’.” “Mr and Mrs Mike and Karen Ruskin say they have nothing to hide, and if the outcome is kept private it will be because the complainant, Jane Collison, will not allow it to be shared.” The spokesperson accuses Collison of destroying the family’s privacy and attempting to discredit their business by going public. In the release, Collison is also accused of identifying all the Ruskins’ contact details to media. In fact, their contact details were freely available on the lodge’s website. The family spokesperson also attacks the media for publishing photos of the Ruskins’ “home”, meaning the lodge they share with paying guests. “The worldwide coverage that followed meant anyone with an internet was able to judge, slander and personally attack the family and their business, all while no wrong-doing had been proven,” the release continues. “The family believes that it is only just that those who felt qualified to pass judgement in public on this 'privately-laid' case hear the result as they are entitled to the full story. “That includes Labour MP Louisa Wall, who told [ Daily News] Mr and Mrs Ruskin were ‘disingenuous’ and making use of a ‘loophole’ in the law and should not be allowed to run a business in New Zealand. “The family’s spokesperson says they never made this public nor encouraged public debate and opinion. “However they see it as an opportunity to work alongside the homosexual community to clarify for New Zealanders how equal rights can be shared by all of us, particularly when whatever ethics we chose to live by differ.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 13th June 2013 - 9:03am

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