Some gay hoteliers in Blackpool have just woken up to the predicament their community leaders have led them into.
A hotelier who runs a gays-only guesthouse fears the new anti-discrimination laws could put him out of business. Mark Hurst, 47, says the legislation will force him to open his doors to heterosexual guests. He believes this will put off his core customers, who may feel uneasy in a mixed group.
Mr Hurst, who runs Guyz hotel in Blackpool with his partner Steve, said: "We run a gay hotel exclusively for men. We feel if we were forced to a situation where we had to accept heterosexual people into our hotel, our gay clientele will not behave as naturally as they would now...
Mr Hurst’s fears that, by extension, it could force him not to discriminate against heterosexuals are shared by Steve Dobbin, 46, manager of the gay hotel Trades, also in Blackpool.
He said: "Many of our older guests don’t like to show affection to one another in front of a mixed group. I can see what the law is trying to do but I am not certain this is the right way to ensure gay rights." [Daily Mail]
Without wishing to blow my own cornet, this blog was the only one I know of - though I'm sure there were others - that spoke up for the gay and lesbian B&B owners before they themselves twigged that the sexual orientation regulations of the Equality Act would apply to them as well. But one of the Act's chief cheerleaders, Peter 'Outrage' Tatchell, is unsympathetic to their plight.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said, however: "I think it’s very unlikely there are going to be hundreds of heterosexuals banging on the doors of gay hotels demanding to be let in.
"I think their fears are misplaced. Under the new laws they will still be able to make it clear to prospective guests that they primarily serve the gay community."
How can a 'gay rights' campaigner be supporting legislation that erodes the freedoms of gay and lesbian B&B owners to provide a service that both they and their customers can feel comfortable with? Isn't that against to the interests of the gay-and-lesbian holiday industry? Whilst the Act may not immediately decimate the UK's gay-and-lesbian B&B scene, surely it will discourage other gays and lesbians from opening new establishments? Maybe Peter Tatchell goes abroad for his holidays, but I'm sure there are some old queens and dykes who like nothing better than to be beside the British seaside, sucking on sticks of rock or licking their candyfloss, in a B&B tailored exclusively to their needs. There's no accounting for taste but that's surely no reason to drive the proprietors out of business.
As I've said before, it's an illiberal and indiscriminate law that didn't get proper parliamentary scrutiny. I'm not suggesting that the gay-and-lesbian holiday industry gets an exemption from the Act, not if adoption agencies don't also. But I do think the whole Act needs scrapping and redrafting, with greater reference to the real world.