Death threats over gay refusal

By Mike Dinsdale


The owners of a Whangarei lodge say they have had death threats made against them since their decision not to allow a lesbian couple to share a bed at their establishment went public earlier this month.

Karen and Michael Ruskin, who own Pilgrim Planet Lodge in Hatea Dr, have called in the police over what they say are "vile and ugly" threats made against them and their business.

The couple came to prominence earlier this month when they refused to allow engaged Far North lesbian couple Jane Collison and Paula Knight to share a bed at the lodge. Ms Knight and Ms Collison have complained to the Human Rights Commission over the snub, saying they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, which was a breach of the Human Rights Act.

But the Ruskins believed the lodge had an exemption under the Act as it was classed as shared accommodation and it is the couple's own home.

Since the matter became public the Ruskins have been inundated with criticism, and Death threats for lodge

also received plenty of support for their stance, but they say the criticism has become far more sinister than people simply disagreeing with their morals.

Mrs Ruskin said an email and text message had been referred to police, with the email threatening to "torture (sic) your house" while the text had three words "Boom, you're dead".

"That's pretty threatening to me. Anybody would consider those to be threats, and it's not on," she said.

"Hopefully police can identify these people. Those were the two most extreme threats of some very vile and ugly comments made to us. There are some pretty foul people out there."

She said people could disagree with the couple's moral stance on the issue, but issuing threats was showing intolerance and bigotry.

"We have something that's beautiful here [Pilgrim Planet] and say that we have the right to expect people to respect that beauty."

Mrs Ruskin said the couple had yet to be contacted by the Human Rights Commission, but she accepted that the couple faced a "fairly huge battle" fighting the complaint.

She said the couple had now put their stance on the Pilgrim Planet Lodge website.

The website states: "Our nation's moral code has been based on generally accepted values which have guided legislation. Essentially parliament's concern is matters legal and the peoples' concern is matters moral. When these line up we have peace and harmony but when politicians legislate against morality, a disconnect occurs. Unjust laws need to be questioned for if we fail to do this we will become corrupted by the law instead of edified and protected by it. You are welcome to stay in our home, whatever your beliefs, so long as you respect and understand ours."

- Northern Advocate

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