‘Baseless’: Chennai Hotel on Same-Sex Couple’s Homophobia Charge
Image used for representational purposes. 
Image used for representational purposes. Photo: iStock

‘Baseless’: Chennai Hotel on Same-Sex Couple’s Homophobia Charge

In a recent incident of alleged homophobia, two women partying at a hotel in Chennai were purportedly asked by the staff to leave on the grounds that they were 'causing discomfort to other guests present there'.

Rasika Gopalakrishnan and her girlfriend, Shivangi Singh, were partying at The Slate Hotel in Chennai when they were allegedly approached by bouncers and accused of "doing something else" and asked ‘to leave immediately’.

However, in a statement issued on Friday, 2 August, The Slate Hotel management refuted the charges. Their statement said, "There have been biased, lopsided, defamatory and baseless allegations hurled at our entrepreneurial venture... by two individuals on social media and picked up by a section of the mainstream media. The sensational headline has portrayed our pub as 'Homophobic'."

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‘They Accused Us of ‘Doing Something Else’’

Rasika, who is someone who calls herself ‘visibly queer’, told The News Minute about what transpired that night:

“Four to five men were standing at the bar and were lecherously staring at us while we were dancing, making us very uncomfortable. As far as we knew, we weren’t doing anything different from how other heterosexual couples were dancing – occasionally holding hands, hugging, etc. We were very well aware that we were in a public space, and made calculated efforts to remain as decent as possible.”
Rasika Gopalakrishnan

Following this, when the two went to use the washroom, they were allegedly asked to step out of the cubicle.

“Four male bouncers and one female bouncer were inside the washroom, demanding to know what we were doing in the washroom together. They accused us of “doing something else”, they warned us about “several complaints” they had received from the guests, and they insisted that we leave immediately. So we left.”
Rasika wrote on the hotel’s review page on Facebook. 

‘Didn't Indulge in Any Form of Moral Policing’

The hotel management, on the other hand, narrated a different sequence of events that took place on the night in question, saying there was "absolutely no question of male bouncers entering the washroom".

"After a few drinks, the two college girls were dancing in a manner that made some of our other customers uncomfortable. The two girls then locked themselves up in the same cubicle of the washroom for quite some time. As the manager was concerned if all was well and some of our other guests wanted to visit the toilet urgently, our female staff politely requested the girls to come out," it said.

Asserting that it did not engage in any form of moral policing, the hotel added that "there were eyewitnesses and their testimony will be made available at the appropriate time and forum, if necessary."

“We respect and welcome customers from different backgrounds, identities and sexual orientation. We follow a zero-discrimination policy... To accuse us youngsters of “homophobia” is not just false but downright absurd... We wish the two girls well and would like to reassure them that we are most definitely not what they have made us out to be.”
The Slate Management

Hotel Staff Had Tried to Mitigate Situation

After Rasika and Shivangi chose to share this on social media, they had been contacted by the hotel staff who tried to mitigate the situation.

As reported by TNM, The Slate spokesperson Varun Ganeshan, after providing an initial apology, went on to add, “They were initially drinking at the bar, and they started making out at the bar. They got a little over extra – I don’t know if they don’t remember because they were too drunk. It went out of the way. There were at least 4-5 complaints because we do get a lot of these newly married and family people at the bar as well. I’m not saying this to cover up for myself.”

According to Rasika, “He also said at some point that since we made our story public on social media, he could have also released the videos. (Talk about threatening us)”.

When the girls insisted that they would like to confirm what is there in the footage, he didn’t pick their calls for hours, and finally called back saying that there is no need to watch any footage, it won't be necessary.

The couple had denied allegations of having conducted themselves in any way that compromised the decorum of a public space.

(With inputs from The News Minute.)

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