Australia’s The Peel Hotel celebrated a court victory this weekend after a tribunal ruled that the gay guest house can legally exclude heterosexuals and lesbians.
Hotel owner Tom McFeely applied for the special privilege after women invaded the gay space for “hen’s nights” during which they “ogled” and objectified the gay men for their own amusement, while straight men also got off on scoffing at the gays.
Human rights commission chief Helen Szoke seemed to agree. She wrote in her ruling:
To regard the gay male patrons of the venue as providing an entertainment or spectacle to be stared at, as one would at an animal at a zoo, devalues and dehumanises them.â€
[The ruling] seeks to give gay men a space in which they may, without inhibition, meet, socialise and express physical attraction to each other in a non-threatening atmosphere.
While some people may view this exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act as a legal blessing, others see it as a curse.
Aussie homo-journo Steve Dow blasts the decision:
Sometimes we need reminding we haven’t got a monopoly on oppression… Here’s a tip, Peel patrons. Instead of being mean with our dance space, let’s share it. Soon there will be a report by the Human Rights Commission tabled in Federal Parliament that intelligently outlines the urgent need to end discrimination against same-sex couples in superannuation, wills and the like. That’s when we’ll need our friends more than ever, dancing to the same song.
Too true. How can we ask for equal rights when we condone such discrimination. As Dow points out, perhaps McFeely and his bouncers can exercise their discretion, rather than bending the law to suit their special needs – a tactic that will no doubt inflame the right.
We wag our finger not only at McFeely and his hotel, but at the Melbourne Human Rights tribunal. We’re all for gay rights, but not at the expense of others’ – even if they are homophobe dickwads.