Hotel ordered to pay €3,000 to gay men

 

A GALWAY city hotel has been ordered to pay €3,000 to two gay men after the Equality Tribunal upheld their complaints of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in relation to services made available to them.

The Eyre Square Hotel has also been directed to develop an equal-status policy.

The case arose after a “gay-friendly” social was organised by Peter McGuffin and Enda Harte at the hotel for June 5th, 2005, a bank holiday Sunday.

The men had previously organised similar events in the Victoria Hotel in Galway, a sister hotel of the Eyre Square Hotel and owned by the same proprietor.

They complained that the manager of the Eyre Square Hotel told them “out of the blue” on June 3rd, 2005, that the hotel owner had said the social could not proceed. The manager said the owner was very angry such an event was being held in his establishment, they claimed.

While they persuaded the manager the event could not be cancelled at such short notice, they were told two weeks later their regular Thursday night slot in the Victoria Hotel was no longer available to them. The Victoria Hotel manager had said he was told to get rid of them as the proprietor had been ridiculed by others over holding such events, they said.

An equality officer who investigated their complaints noted the owner of the hotels had denied discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, and said the events were cancelled because they were not profitable.

The officer found the managers of both hotels had told the complainants their events were cancelled because of their association with the gay community and the managers believed that view was coming “from the top”.

She also found the promoters were not told of any issues with the events’ profitability. In any event, the losses were not so alarming as to justify cancelling a bank holiday social.

She further noted that posters advertising the event around Galway were torn down by hotel staff acting on orders. That action was enough to establish prima facie discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Equality Tribunal upheld the officer’s decision awarding €1,500 to each complainant, and directed the hotel to develop appropriate equal-status policies.