Italian hotelier warns guest: ‘We don’t accept gays or animals’

A homosexual couple were forced to cancel their holiday at a Calabrian guesthouse after the owner told them, via Whatsapp, that gays and animals are not allowed.

Italian hotelier warns guest: 'We don’t accept gays or animals'
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Massimo Arcangeli was clarifying details of the couple’s stay with the owner of the family-run guesthouse in Santa Maria, a hamlet near the beach resort of Tropea, via the messaging service when he was told that gays were not accepted.

He posted the discussion on his Facebook page. The owner asked questions about where the couple was from and gave details of the guesthouse adjoining the family villa before thanking Arcangeli for booking to stay, adding that it was the first year they were renting the home to holidaymakers.

But then the owner ended the message with what he described as an “important” notice:

“I’m sorry if I seem like a caveman. We don’t accept gays or animals.”

Arcangeli said: “It immediately made me think of the famous message Nazis would post on their shop windows: ‘No dogs or Jews’. Seventy years have passed since then and this story cannot be ignored.”

The Italian gay rights association, Arcigay, has called for the hotel to be removed from and other hotel reservation sites.

The association’s Naples unit said it was “disgusted” by the hotel owner’s conduct.

“We also look forward to decisive action being taken by the municipality, the Calabria region and authorities responsible for supervising and combating discrimination.”

Italy may have reached a “historic milestone” in granting civil unions in 2016, but the county is a long way from being LGBT-friendly, according to a report published by Rainbow Europe in May.

In the report, Italy scored just 27 percent in its protections for and rights granted to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT), making it one of the worst countries in Western Europe in terms of gay rights.

However, its ranking of 32nd out of 49 countries was an increase of three places from the 2016 ranking, when it scored just 20 percent. 

LGBT people in Italy are also at risk of homophobic violence, the report said, citing a far-right attack on a Rome Gay Centre, and five murders of trans people in Italy in 2016.


Easyjet apologises for advertising southern Italian region’s ‘mafia activity and earthquakes’

Get a taste of real Italy by bunking down in mafia land, the ad said. But Easyjet's bid to pitch Calabria backfired, and the company was forced to apologise on Tuesday.

Easyjet apologises for advertising southern Italian region's 'mafia activity and earthquakes'
The seaside town of Tropea in Calabria. Photo: sea_and_sunset/Unsplash

“For an authentic taste of Italian life, there's nothing better than Calabria,” the Italian-language advert on the British airline's website said. “The region suffers from a distinct lack of tourists because of its history of mafia activity and earthquakes”.

Easyjet said the region in Italy's southern tip, famous for its coastline, rich history and culture, suffered from “the lack of iconic cities such as Rome and Venice capable of attracting the Instagram crowd”.


Italy's minister for the south Peppe Provenzano on Tuesday demanded Easyjet “apologise to Calabria and Italy”, with Calabrian senator Ernesto Magorno shouting: “Shame on you Easyjet! Calabria is a wonderful land with exceptional people.”

The region's head, Jole Santelli, slammed the “pseudo-marketing operation” as “aggressive, short-sighted and with a clear racist undercurrent”.

Easyjet apologised, saying it had only wanted to point out that Calabria was undervalued by foreign tourists, and would remove the offending advert as well as launching an internal investigation, Italian dailies said.

“Calabria is a very important land for us, which we love and have always promoted with numerous flights to Lamezia Terme,” it insisted.

While Calabria may not be as well known overseas as other parts of southern Italy, the region attracts a healthy number of Italian tourists each summer with its spectacular rocky coastline and hyper-blue waters.

It's also one of the best places in Italy to find traces of the Ancient Greeks who settled in southern Italy before the Roman Empire, including two priceless bronzes discovered by a local diver after centuries underwater and now housed at the impressive National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria.

The Riace Bronzes on display in Reggio Calabria. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP