Monday, 25 February 2013

Refused a Room?

News has recently broke of a gay couple who were denied a pre-booked double room and told they would have to have a family room instead. After complaining on Twitter, the couple in question have received a huge number of messages of support, as well as the hotel chain promising to investigate the actions of its staff. After a Bed and Breakfast couple were sued for doing pretty much the same thing, it seems that the legal case is clear cut, but that does not mean that it is morally black and white.

To deny these people a room that they had pre-booked seems harsh, especially since this was a commercial residence. They had booked and where willing to pay for that room, and there seems no reason why a business should care any more than that, as the sexuality of their guests are not really their concern. To many, the moral issue is that two people were denied something that had already booked, and this was not even somebody's home, as in the Bed and Breakfast case.

Yet the receptionist still gave them a room, and did not refuse to serve them. If that receptionist had an objection to unmarried people sharing a bed, or did not agree with homosexuality, then their actions were perfectly reasonable. It would have been against their beliefs for them to give a double room to an unmarried gay couple, so the compromise of offering a family room was a well-balanced and thought through alternative.

In this situation, many Christians would feel that there was a problem in giving a double room to a gay couple, as it would could be seen as endorsing homosexuality. This is not to say that we know if the receptionist is religious in any way, but the they may very well have faced an ethical dilemma, something that they did there best to solve through the offering of a family room.

After all, the couple were still given a room to sleep in, and were seemingly treated in a way that was not abusive or particularly unreasonable. The law, inevitably, would disagree with me on this matter, but the law could be wrong in this situation. It will be interesting to see how this story continues, and what details emerge about the night in question. It may be that there was no other rooms that night, meaning that the whole point is irrelevant and the poor receptionist, suffering from an administrative error, is now labelled as someone who is homophobic. This was, after all, the excuse that was given.

Equally, if the situation turns out to have been an abusive one, then everything changes. For know, however, I believe that the receptionist found a compromise that solved a dilemma that they were presented with.

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