The Human Rights Commission is looking into a complaint that a Whangarei lodge discriminated against a lesbian couple by insisting they could not share a bed because the owners did not want “unnatural” sexual acts going on in their premises.
The commission confirmed yesterday it had received a complaint from Far North couple Jane Collison and Paula Knight over what they say was discrimination against them from the owners of Pilgrim Planet Lodge in Hatea Drive, Michael and Karen Ruskin.
The couple, who are engaged to marry, booked a king-sized bed for their stay but when they turned up on May 7 were told they had to have separate single beds because their sexual orientation offended the Ruskins.
Ms Collison and Ms Knight instead stayed at a place in Waipu, more than 40km away, after coming for a romantic two-day getaway that also mixed business and said the treatment at the lodge left them feeling shocked, embarrassed and hurt.
A commission spokeswoman said a complaint had been received and was being assessed and would not comment further.
Under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone in the provision of goods and services because of their sexual orientation.
However, Mr Ruskin said he believed the lodge had an exemption as it was classed as shared accommodation and the couple’s home.
“And we don’t want sodomy in our home. That’s not the same thing as saying we are anti-gay,” Mr Ruskin said.
He said he and his wife believed the couple would have engaged in “unnatural” sexual acts, which they did not want in their home. Mr Ruskin said the lodge had had homosexual people stay before “who have understood our situation and they have been happy to stay in a room with two king single beds”.
But Ms Collison said what the couple got up to in the privacy of their bedroom would have been none of the Ruskins’ business.
The couple wanted the commission to rule if the treatment was discrimination.
Since the story broke, the lodge’s Facebook page has been inundated with comments, , most critical of the lodge’s stance, but some supporting the Ruskins.