The Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) is investigating whether a lesbian couple who claim they were refused a double room at a country motel were victims of discrimination.
The couple, who did not wish to be named, alleged they arrived at the Best Western Country Club Hotel at Kununurra in the Kimberley region in August last year and asked for a double room.
The person behind the front desk reacted strangely and said the only room left had three single beds in it, they alleged.
One half of the couple allegedly returned to the front desk a little later and spoke to a different staff member, who said there were double rooms available and she was welcome to one.
The complainant then approached a manager and explained she thought they had been discriminated against because they were a lesbian couple.
The manager allegedly said there had been no discrimination and that the room they’d been given had just been vacated. However, the number of the room allegedly vacated was not the same number room she had been given.
After an argument in the foyer the manager allegedly told the women to leave the hotel or he would call the police, the couple said. They allegedly insisted they be allowed to stay and threatened to make a formal complaint.
The manager agreed to let them stay if they paid by credit card, but as the couple wanted to pay by cash they decided to leave.
They lodged a formal complaint with the WA Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC).
A spokesperson for Best Western Australia said she could not comment directly on the matter as it was still being investigated by the EOC, adding, Best Western Australia does not condone discrimination of any kind.
The spokesperson said that while Best Western, a franchise, does not have control over operational aspects of the individual properties, the company did take any guest complaint seriously.
A letter sent by the Kununurra hotel to Best Western Australia, which was obtained by the complainants, attempted to qualify the staff member’s strange reaction to the women asking for a double bed.
The letter read, If the -˜strange manner’ can fairly describe a degree of puzzlement, then what is wrong with that? Let us suggest the same degree of puzzlement might well follow a request from a pair of male travellers for a double room with a double/ queen bed.
When Sydney Star Observer contacted the Best Western Country Club Hotel at Kununurra a staff member said no one was able to comment on the matter as it was before the EOC. The EOC also said they were unable to comment on the case.
The complainants said the matter was going to conciliation later this month.