Following an accusation of homophobia against The Slate Hotels, Chennai, last week, the queer community in the city has issued a statement condemning The Slate Hotels for their actions and has also come out in support of the two women.
In the letter, the signatories have slammed the hotel for attempting to intimidate the women and appropriating the struggles of the queer community to justify the discrimination. They have also raised questions on whether the hotel has taken any steps to sensitise their staff.
On July 27, Rasika Gopalakrishnan and Shivangi Singh, a queer couple, were thrown out of the hotel because the establishment claimed that they'd made other customers "uncomfortable". While the hotel has maintained that this happened because the two young women were behaving "indecently", both Rasika and Shivangi have denied the claim and have said that the incident took place due to homophobia and nothing else.
A representative of the hotel had earlier allegedly claimed to the women that he had footage to "prove" that they had behaved "inappropriately" but when the women said they were ready to view this footage, the hotel made no move to do so. The Slate Hotels has neither come up with any material evidence to back up their claims nor has it issued a public apology to the women.
Read TNM's report here: Two women thrown out of The Slate Hotels in Chennai, accuse management of homophobia
TNM is republishing the letter below:
Queer individuals and allies condemn homophobia and blatant intimidation by The Slate Hotels, Chennai
"We stand by Rasika and Shivangi and condemn every attempt by the management of The Slate Hotels to discredit them."
The Slate Hotels in Chennaiâs Khader Nawaz Khan Road is a popular nightlife destination in the city. Last week, the establishment humiliated, intimidated and threw out a young queer couple, accusing them of behaving âinappropriatelyâ. When the young women spoke out about the hotel managementâs homophobia, there were further attempts to intimidate them by threatening to ârelease CCTV footageâ of them behaving âinappropriatelyâ on the dance floor. And a week after the deplorable incident, the management has not even considered an apology, and instead seem to be attempting âmedia managementâ.
As queer individuals from Chennai and who have a connection to Chennai, and as people who believe in keeping private establishments who claim to be âqueer friendlyâ, accountable for their actions, we condemn the homophobia and queerphobia on display by The Slate Hotels, Chennai. There is nothing âindecentâ about two women dancing with each other, and nothing âinappropriateâ about it either. If the establishment was âLGBTQI+ friendlyâ as they claim, they would have trained their staff to be more sensitive, and asked the âpatrons who felt uncomfortableâ to leave instead to ensure that they are a safe space for women and LGBTQI+ people.
How many training sessions has the management held to sensitise their staff about LGBTQI+ issues? What have they done to ensure that their establishment is a safe space for queer individuals and couples? What strategies have they developed to ensure queer individuals and couples do not feel threatened by their other patrons?
Further, we condemn all attempts made by the management of the hotel to intimidate and discredit the two young women.
A âstatementâ is doing the rounds, purportedly released by the three âyoungstersâ who run the hotel â Varun Ganesan, Jai Chowdhary, and Deepraj G. This statement is nothing but an attempt to discredit the two young women, and to portray themselves as victims of a âmedia conspiracy orchestrated by two students.â The statement blatently using the queer movement and our struggles is deplorable and exploitation of our lived experiences. The statement also highlights the hotel managment as âyoungstersâ and hence cannot be homophobic. As queer individuals, activists and allies we are aware that age does not have anything to do with prejudice and bigotry. As individuals who have worked at grassroot level, our allies and supporters come from all ages and backgrounds. The bid to portray all young persons as queer friendly is another attempt to dilute the queerphobia kids go through in schools and colleges. This is nothing but ageism. Our fight for a just society and safe spaces for queer individuals includes the supposed progressive and liberal spaces. These spaces are not free of prejudice and queerphobia.
We condemn this thoughtless statement, that is a clear attempt to silence the victims of The Slate Hotels, Chennaiâs discrimination and homophobia.
We demand that the hotel management issue an immediate and full apology to the two young women, and further take steps to sensitise their staff about LGBTQI+ issues. We also suggest that the owners of the establishment enroll themselves for sensitisation sessions as well â learning the right words and pretending to be âwokeâ is not a free pass to humiliate, threaten, and discriminate against people.
To Rasika and Shivangi, we would like to extend our support, and hope that their daily lives and their education are not disrupted further by the reckless homophobia and insufferable self-righteousness of the owners of The Slate Hotels, Chennai.
To endorse the statement: http://tiny.cc/l1rnaz
The list of people who have endorsed are available at https://medium.com/qcc-blog/queer-individuals-and-allies-condemn-homophobia-and-blatant-intimidation-by-the-slate-hotels-24b59f9200a0