6 Jul 2007

bangkok hotel apologises for transvestite ban incident

A nightclub at Novotel Bangkok, which was widely reported to have discriminated against a transvestite by barring him from entering its premises, has issued an apology admist a boycott that was underway.

Novotel Bangkok - part of the French-owned Accor Group - on Thursday issued an apology to a Thai transvestite barred from the hotel's nightclub almost two weeks ago. The widely reported incident has prompted Bangkok Rainbow Organisation and other local LGBT groups to launch a worldwide boycott of the Bangkok hotel and other Accor properties.

Featured on Bangkok Rainbow Organisation's website, the group says it would end the ''Novotel No Homosexual'' boycott campaign once the hotel apologises for the incident.
"On behalf of Novotel Bangkok in Siam Square, I would like to extend my sincere apology to Suttirat Simsriwong for the unfortunate incident that took place on Friday June 22 between her and the CM2 management and staff," said Novotel Bangkok manager Gerald Hougardy told a roomful of gay rights advocates and reporters.

Suttirat, who was in drag at the time, was barred from entering the the CM2 nightclub at Novotel Bangkok on the grounds that he was a kathoey, the Thai word for a transvestite.

Although Hougardy insisted that the hotel did not have a policy to refuse entry to people based on their sexual orientation, it accepts "responsibility for the error in judgement by our employees on the night in question," adding that such an unfortunate incident would not happen again.

"I accept the apology," said Suttirat, who added, "What's past is past." Suttirat urged gay rights groups to now drop their boycott of the Novotel Bangkok and other Accor hotels.

"In the future I will be a guest of the Novotel," said Sutthirat during the press conference organised by the hotel.