Guest houses 'can be for gay men only'

By Time of article published Jun 26, 2006

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By A'eysha Kassiem

The Commission on Gender Equality has found that two guest houses in Cape Town catering only for homosexual men are within their rights, saying this accommodation is a "necessity in our democratic society".

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance lodged a complaint against two Amsterdam guest houses in the City Bowl and Sea Point more than a year ago, saying they had turned several people away because they were "men only" resorts.

The GLA cited discrimination against women, lesbians and heterosexual couples who, according to them, had lodged 107 complaints with the organisation.

The complaint was lodged with the Human Rights Commission and later referred to the Commission on Gender Equality.

The commission said the guest houses were "serving a legitimate interest in... that they seek to create a comfortable environment for gay men where they can express themselves freely".

"It is the commission's view that accommodation of this nature is necessary in our democratic society to protect or advance legitimate interests of the aforementioned groups," it said.

It did, however, express concern with how the guest houses were advertised. The resorts' website and adverts say the guest houses are for "men only".

"With regard to the manner in which it advertises its business and with specific reference to the words 'men only', the commission submits that the advert in its current format may not pass constitutional scrutiny.

"The advert as it stands is offensive and is likely to attract some criticism," it said.

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