Chilean Motel Bans Lesbian Couple, Faces Wrath of New Anti-Discrimination Laws

A lesbian couple in Chile was just denied a motel room because the management didn’t want to offer turn-down service to same-sex couples.

After Carla de la Fuenta and Pamela Zapata noticed that two straight couples were given keys, they confronted the staff at Marin 014 in Providencia. “We were taken to an area far away from the reception and told to wait. Then, as we watched a heterosexual couple check in, we were told that the motel had no available rooms,” said Zapata.

But a guard soon explained  that hotel regulations prohibited the reception of gay and lesbian partners. “Patrons of the hotel had complained about the sight of same-sex couples,”  a staff member told Chilevision Television.

Zapata said the incident left them feeling “like criminals.”

With the help of the civil-rights group Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), she and de la Fuenta are pursuing justice in what’s believed to be the first use of Chile’s new anti-discrimination law, enacted in July. Spurred by the brutal gay-bashing murder of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio, the measure—popularly known as “Ley Zamudio”—penalizes discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation with a fine of up to 1,832,000 Chilean pesos (or about $3,780).

“These discriminatory incidents are simply unacceptable. they punish love based on prejudice and ignorance.” says Movilh president Rolando Jiménez, who says such mistreatment has been reported at numerous Chilean motels. “This is why we demand that these places end their discriminatory practices. If they do not, we will continue applying [the law].”

Viva la revolucion!