By Angela Jameson
Hoteliers who discriminate against same-sex couples may soon find themselves in court, according to Stonewall, the campaign for gay and lesbian rights.
Despite the surprise failure this week of gay rights campaigners to win a European Court of Justice case for sex discrimination against South West Trains, activists are determined to press on with test cases designed to strengthen gay rights and ensure equal access to goods and services.
Stonewall is now under pressure to bring a test case against hotels that refuse same-sex bookings. Its research showed that in a study of 4,000 gay people, 17% said they had been made to feel unwelcome because of their sexuality when staying in a hotel, 7% had been refused a double bed, and 3% had been told that gays and lesbians were unwelcome.
"If we don't bring a case, someone will. The ambiguity in current sex discrimination legislation has to be tested," said Anya Palmer of Stonewall, although she agreed most hoteliers were businesslike in dealing with gay guests.
"Most don't want to ask if customers are married before selling them a double room and this is really the same thing," she said.
The London Tourist Board is encouraging gay travellers from overseas. It is promoting London as the ideal destination for gays in the US press and has launched a "pink" hotline of gay and lesbian information on clubs, events and gay-friendly restaurants.
A spokeswoman for LTB said its campaign had received lots of support from the capital's hoteliers. "Most of London's hoteliers wouldn't bat an eyelid," she said.