Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Travel company ends ban on gay couples

A travel company which bases its 'offer' to the public on existing to serve couples only has just, and unexpectedly, ended the ban which excluded gay couples from its services, which I understand are all-inclusive resorts in warm and sunny locations (it appears that a major market target for such holidays is recently-married couples taking a 'honeymoon', and of course gays are in most jurisdictions not permitted to 'marry'). It would seem that Sandals has finally, at least in theory, bowed to mounting commercial and official pressure and to the prospect of an appearance on BBC Radio4 'Today' programme this morning, to try and defend the policy it has just abandoned. How this will work out in practice for the first gay couples intrepid enough to travel with them remains to be seen.

Welcome as all this is, there are certain aspects of the 'Sandals' saga (and that is not a punning refence to another travel firm) which have always troubled me. I have understood that the basis for the former policy seemed unquestionably to be one of homophobia, and this was never seriously challenged by the firm in question. On the other hand if people choose to holiday amongst people whom they are comfortable with, and only such people (i.e. heterosexual couples), then it seems harmless in a way - there are, after all, gay travel companies which advertise holidays and some of the options they offer are promoted as being to hotels or holiday complexes which are advertised as 'exclusively gay'. What is the real difference? Another aspect of this whole situation which is not spoken of at all, so far as I can see, is that holidays promoted as being for 'couples only' (whether straight, gay or both) remain discriminatory with regard to single travellers, who in any case often must pay a premium for holidays where they are permitted to take them.

I suspect that this area of law and/or practice will have to evolve further if all these inconsistencies are to be ironed out.

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