Outcome of gay case to stay secret

By Mike Dinsdale -
Jane Collinson (right) lodged a Human Rights Commission complaint over a lodge-owner's rebuff to her and partner Paula Knights.
Jane Collinson (right) lodged a Human Rights Commission complaint over a lodge-owner's rebuff to her and partner Paula Knights.

The outcome of a Human Rights Commission complaint by a lesbian couple who say they were discriminated against when a Whangarei lodge would not let them share a bed will only be made public if both sides agree.

Jane Collison complained to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) after she and fiancé Paula Knight, both from the Far North, booked a room at Pilgrim Planet Lodge in Hatea Drive in May, only to turn up and be told by owners Karen and Michael Ruskin that they could not share a king-sized bed because the Ruskins did not agree with the couple's sexual orientation.

The two visitors said they were discriminated against because they were gay, which was a breach of the Human Rights Act.

However, the Ruskins believed the lodge had an exemption under the act as it was classed as shared accommodation and their home.

Since the matter became public the Ruskins have been inundated with criticism, and also received plenty of support for their stance.

As well they have received death threats.

A spokeswoman for the HRC said the process once a complaint had been made was confidential and the outcome would only be known if both parties agreed.

The HRC's Resolving Discrimination and Harassment guide says the dispute resolution process is confidential, which means statements made as part of mediation cannot be disclosed to anyone outside of that process (except where everyone agrees) or be used for any other purpose.

"The Commission strongly recommends that parties to a complaint do not make public comments about the process while it is happening.

"When a dispute has been resolved, the parties involved may agree to make a public statement, particularly if there has been strong public or media interest in the issue. The commission can help write a statement."

Police are probing the alleged death threats made against the Ruskins and their property. The threats have been condemned by Ms Collison and Ms Knight.

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