20 November 2007

South Africa: Gay Couple 'Not Welcome' in Luxury Villa

Cape Town — A Vredenburg guesthouse owner who cancelled a gay couple's booking because her four-star establishment is "certainly not gay-friendly" may soon find herself in court.

The West Coast town's municipal manager, Hendrik Snyders, says this "isolated" incident does not suggest the town is homophobic.

The region's tourism head, Andre Kruger, says "all visitors" are welcome.

Morne Stickling said his partner, Johan de Klerk, had booked a night at the luxury Villa Vita Nouva guesthouse by email, and sent a final email asking for a king-size bed and confirming the couple's arrival time.

"Please note, I hope you are a gay-friendly guesthouse," De Klerk stated in his email.

Villa Vita Nouva owner Marion Botha responded: "We are certainly not gay-friendly, this is a Christian household. We have never had a gay couple staying in the house and we prefer to keep it that way. We hereby cancel this order and exercise our right of admission."

The couple had planned to stay overnight in Vredenburg on a business trip. After the cancellation, they "just drove in, did what we needed to do, and came back (to Cape Town) again", Stickling said, adding that people in the hospitality industry should "advertise their prejudices".

Stickling said the couple were considering taking advice from a human rights lawyer and would consider litigating against Botha.

"We're nice, decent people. We've been in a committed relationship for over three years," said Stickling. "Something like this just throws you."

The couple had lodged a complaint with the tourism grading board, Stickling said.

Contacted on Monday, Botha said she had "no comment".

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