In a case Green MP Kevin Hague describes as ‚Äėappalling‚Äô, couple Jane and Paula had to travel another 50 kilometres to find somewhere else to stay.
Jane tells GayNZ.com Daily News she and her partner had asked for an early check-in at the Pilgrim Planet Lodge when they booked the room with a king-sized bed online.
‚ÄúI went to check in: as Paula had booked under her name, she gave me her business card to take to reception while she makes some business calls in the car,‚ÄĚ Jane says.
At check-in, the owner looked at Paula‚Äôs card and back at Jane, and said the room was not ready. Jane explained they just needed to drop off their gear as they had appointments to get to.
‚ÄúThen she said they only have rooms with single beds. I explained we booked a king-size bed, but I said I could push them together and re-make them if she supplied the king-sized linen. She then admitted she did have a king booked for us, but she would have to split it.‚ÄĚ
Jane expressed her confusion, and says the woman then stated: ‚Äúwe cannot have two women, or men, sleeping in the same bed. This is my home and it is offensive to me.‚ÄĚ
She then realised what the problem was and asked ‚Äúso we offend your religious beliefs, correct?‚ÄĚ to which she says the woman replied ‚ÄúYes it does, best you find accommodation elsewhere‚ÄĚ.
Jane says she was in such a state of shock that she responded very calmly, and did not get emotional, raise her voice or use offensive language. ‚ÄúGetting angry would not help anyone,‚ÄĚ she explains.
‚ÄúPlus even though we were sent back to the street, without our booked accommodation, I knew my hard-earned money was not worthy of ending up in such discriminating and hurtful person's bank account.
‚ÄúPaula is Christian too, but we both found this lady's approach to us very unchristian, indeed,‚ÄĚ Jane adds.
The whole city was booked out due to an international hockey tournament and it took them until dark to find somewhere to stay, 50 kilometres away in Waipu Cove.
It‚Äôs the first time in the 30-year-old‚Äôs life she has faced discrimination and she still can‚Äôt believe it happened.
‚ÄúPaula is my life-partner and fianc√©e; of course we sleep in the same bed like any other couple.‚ÄĚ
Her confidence in her and Paula simply being treated like a normal couple has been shattered.
‚ÄúI am very nervous about our future experiences checking into hotels. I feel humiliated and shocked that this actually happens in New Zealand,‚ÄĚ she says.
Jane says they have stayed in accommodation all over New Zealand, and in four other countries, but never experienced anything like this.
‚ÄúI would like the hotel to know it is discrimination, just as if I owned a hotel and turned them down for their religious beliefs,‚ÄĚ she says.
‚ÄúMy money was not worth anything to them, I was just a second-class citizen. Yes I would like an apology, but I would like other businesses to know it is not ok to turn people down for such reasons as sexual orientation. My partner and I are having difficulties recovering from this incident.‚ÄĚ
The Human Rights Commission says under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone in the provision of goods and services because of their sexual orientation.
‚ÄúOn the information provided to the Commission, the couple concerned can make a discrimination complaint to the Commission where it can be fully assessed.‚ÄĚ
Green MP Kevin Hague says the case is appalling. ‚ÄúThe principle that someone providing a commercial service cannot express their prejudice through discrimination has been in New Zealand law for nearly forty years, and sexual orientation discrimination has been specifically illegal for two decades.‚ÄĚ
His colleague and co-spokesperson on rainbow issues Jan Logie agrees it‚Äôs a shocking story.
‚ÄúI'm surprised at how unabashedly discriminatory this lodge owner has been. Her actions clearly contravene the Human Rights Act,‚ÄĚ she says.
‚ÄúWhile her religious beliefs may mean she is uncomfortable sharing a roof with lesbians sharing a bed or god forbid having sex, she needs to review whether living on site is the right option for her.
‚ÄúTo accept such an argument would open up the path for lodge owners to ask and then monitor if people are using condoms, having sex before marriage or any number of potentially offensive, to them, behaviours. That would be as offensive and ridiculous as this is.‚ÄĚ
The Pilgrim Planet Lodge has five rooms and is run by its owners, Michael and Karen Ruskin, who live on site. They have not responded to a request GayNZ.com Daily News sent yesterday afternoon, asking them to explain their stance, and whether they are aware it breaches the Human Rights Act.
The lodge‚Äôs website says its ‚Äúaccommodation is suited for couples, corporate and single travellers,‚ÄĚ but makes no mention of same-sex couples being unwelcome.
Have you ever experienced this type of discrimination? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org