A bed and breakfast travel lodge in New Zealand is facing a backlash after it turned away a lesbian couple for wanting to share a bed.
The Pilgrim Planet Lodge in Whangarei turned away Jane Collison, 30, and Paula Knight, 45, on Tuesday after telling them that only a room with single beds was available despite their having booked a room with a king-sized bed.
The couple offered to take the room but wanted to push the beds together but was told they would not be allowed to do that either.
When the couple realized that it was the owners’ religious objection to their relationship that was the issue they decided to stay elsewhere and had to drive 30 miles before they could find alternative accommodation.
‘I got very confused, but started to click about what the issue may be and said, ‘Are we offending your religious beliefs’, and she said “Yes and you might have to find accommodation elsewhere.”’ Collison told the New Zealand Herald on Saturday.
‘We sleep in double beds wherever we go, and she was taking that right away from me and asking us to pay to sleep in separate beds.’
Owners Michael and Karen Ruskin believe they are in their rights to force gay couples to sleep in separate beds as they believe their three story, five guest room lodge is not covered by New Zealand’s anti-discrimination laws as they live in the building and share some living spaces with their paying guests.
‘We are entitled under current legislation to discriminate on the basis of sex in shared accommodation,’ Michael Ruskin told the Herald, ‘It’s my own personal integrity to say I don’t want same-sex sex in my house.’
‘The Government can legislate for same-sex marriage but it can’t legislate that I allow them to have their honeymoon in my home.’
Michael Ruskin said that he had allowed homosexuals to stay at the lodge in the past but only in separate beds. He did not say whether he required the same thing of unwed heterosexual couples.
However openly gay Green Party MP Kevin Hague told the Herald that the lodge was not exempt from the law as it only exempted flatmates and people living in boarding houses, not businesses being run out of people’s homes.
‘To find someone still doing it is surprising to me, and will be appalling for this couple,’ Hague said.
The couple now plan to lodge a complaint under the country’s Human Rights Act and the Ruskins have closed down the lodge’s Facebook page after it received a barrage of comments in support of the couple.
New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage in April this year and couples will begin marrying in August when the law goes into effect.