Booking a holiday with your partner is something we all look forward to but, for a gay couple in Naples, what was meant to be a fun and exciting time turned into a traumatic experience when they faced a serious act of discrimination.
The two men were planning a trip to the coastal village of Santa Maria, in south Calabria, and decided to book their stay at Casa Vacanze Ciufo, a guest house they saw online.
Following the booking request on Booking.com the couple was contacted on WhatsApp by the owner of the guest house, who requested more info about them. After few message exchanges, the owner thought it was appropriate to let them know the ‘house rules’ with the following message: “Thank you for your reservation. This is the first year that we are renting [the guest house]. Important note: apologies if I may come across as a caveman, but we do not accept gays or pets.”
Horrified by the reply the two guys immediately took a screenshot of the conversation and got in touch with the Naples branch of Arcigay, the Italian association that advocates for LGBT+ rights.
“When I read the message I was in such a shock” said Gennaro, one of the two men who was denied accommodation. “The first thing that came to my mind was the infamous ‘No dogs, no Jews’ signs, common in Germany during Nazi era. But 70 years have passed since then and this episode cannot be ignored.”
The head of Arcigay Napoli,Gabriele Piazzoni, immediately responded with an official statement where he condemned the incident as an extremely serious act of homophobia. He also urged LGBT+ people to boycott facilities who don’t have anti-discrimination policies in place and requested the guest house to be removed from Booking.com and all other holiday bookings websites. Finally he demanded the local city council and authorities to take action.
More details have also emerged about the owner of Casa Vacanze Ciufo in the past few hours. The man, Filippo Mondella, a rabid Putin and Trump supporter, was under investigation in 2013 for affiliation with a local mafia boss.
Amongst many posts on his Facebook where he praises Trump and Putin, he also openly shares his view on gay people.
In one of his posts he quotes an article from Italian newspaper La Repubblica about the first polyamorous family legally recognised in Colombia. His comment is disturbing to say the least: “Well! Now you can tell me I’m a “homophobe”, but soon there won’t be families anymore… there will be orgies. Shoot them immediately!!! ”
Following the media storm, the local mayor has openly criticised the hotelier and condemned the event and the couple has been offered a free stay in another facility. Booking.com has also suspended reservation for Casa Vacanze Ciufo.
Episodes of businesses refusing LGBT+ people have happened in Ireland too in the past but luckily they are becoming quite rare.
Have you ever faced discrimination from a local business? Let us know in the comments.
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