A hotel in Singapore has apologised after telling a lesbian couple their wedding wasn’t welcome.
The couple sent an enquiry to the Parkroyal Collection Pickering asking about wedding ceremonies. An employee responded by telling them that same-sex weddngs were not welcome at the five-star hotel.
The email read: “I am sorry to inform you that the hotel does not allow same-sex couples to have wedding ceremony and celebration due to the regulation.”
The couple shared a screenshot of the exchange on Prout, a popular LGBTQ+ app in Singapore. The screenshot was then shared on Prout’s Instagram account on Monday (20 June) and went viral.
On Tuesday (21 June) the hotel issued an apology to the couple, with an Instagram post which read “we are sorry”.
In the caption, the hotel wrote: “Thank you for your patience as we seek to understand this unfortunate mistake and misinformation from one of our team members at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering.
“We are an inclusive hotel, and we are truly sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience this may have caused. We have since reached out to the couple and will do our best to assist them with their special occasion at our hotel.”
The hotel’s general manager Phil Smith told TODAY Online: “When we were informed by our teams of this email, we immediately investigated the matter as it was not in keeping with the hotel’s position, which has been open to hosting all events from the LGBTQ community.
“The associate who had replied (to the couple) had made a truly regrettable mistake, with a wrongful assumption of the law, and replied without checking on this with the department lead.”
The couple acknowledged the hotel’s apology but have now decided against holding their wedding there.
“We thank the Parkroyal Pickering for publicly and privately apologising to us,” they said.
“We hope that other hotels will be inspired by the Parkroyal Pickering and reconsider their own policies and communications towards allowing same-sex couples to hold their celebrations there.”
The statement was signed “thelesbiancouplewhojustwanted2gethitched”.
Same-sex marriages are not legally recognised in Singapore, but there are no laws that stop people from having private wedding ceremonies.
There are also no laws in Singapore that would prevent establishments from engaging in discriminatory acts such as these.
Mr Suang Wijaya, a criminal and commercial disputes lawyer with Eugene Thuraisingam LLP told TODAY Online: “To my knowledge, there is presently no law in Singapore that prohibits a private establishment — such as a hotel — from engaging in discriminatory acts against the LGBTQ community.”
In 2019 a Statistica survey found that 39 per cent of Singaporeans would react positively if a close family member came out compared to 14 per cent who stated they would react negatively.
LGBTQ+ activists are still trying to overturn the colonial-era law S377A, which makes acts of “gross indecency” between men punishable with up to two years in prison.
While S377A cannot be legally enforced due to a ruling in 2020, the Attorney General can give reasonable notice to the public if he decides to prosecute under the law.
Johnson Ong, a Singaporean LGBT+ activist, said in an interview with GLAAD: “Although the non-enforcement of S377A offers a small step towards the LGBTQ+ community’s freedom from discrimination and oppression, it will take more time before the LGBTQ+ community finds full recognition and acceptance by policymakers and society.
“It has always been an uphill struggle for the community but we will not stop making progress in our fight for a genuinely open and inclusive Singapore.”