Gay anger at 'offensive' holiday ads

Two broadsheet newspapers have come under fire for running frontpage luxury holiday advertisements that gay rights campaigners say are discriminatory.

The adverts were placed by Sandals, the holiday company which earlier this year was banned from advertising on the London Underground.

The ads, which appeared in The Times and The Daily Telegraph, are for luxury all-inclusive Caribbean holidays for “couples in love”. A footnote in small print in the ad stipulates “mixed sex couples only”.

A spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall said: “The Mayor of London banned them from advertising on the Tube because people don’t want to be confronted by that sort of thing.

“It isn’t illegal to discriminate in the provision of goods and services, so travel companies can say they don’t want same-sex couples. But we’ve had quite a lot of people complaining to us about Sandals and the situation in general.

“Straight people who have seen the advert have also told us they find it offensive.

“I’m quite surprised that newspapers like The Times and The Daily Telegraph would run advertisements like that.

“We always argue that couples are couples and the sort of people that would be going along on these holidays would have no objection to same-sex couples, as well as mixed-sex ones.”

A spokesman for The Daily Telegraph said: “The Telegraph is sorry if any offence has been caused by this advertisement.

However, we accepted the advertisement from Sandals on the basis that it was honest, decent and legal. As far as we are aware, this is still the case.

“We suggest that any complaint or inquiry needs to be made directly to Sandals as the advertiser and owner of the advertised offer.”

When Ken Livingstone intervened to stop Sandals advertising on the Tube this summer, he said: “I am pleased to say London Underground agreed that it is not acceptable for a company with such an openly discriminatory policy to advertise on public transport in this city.”

According to Sandals, the company runs 19 resorts, 12 of which are romantic adult-only destinations and for same-sex couples only but the remainder of its holiday centres are open to anyone.

By Dominic Ponsford

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