SINGAPORE, June 23 — A member of staff at the Parkroyal Collection Pickering hotel had made a “wrongful assumption of the law” and this led the hotel to initially decline to host a lesbian couple’s wedding ceremony, a hotel representative said when giving more details on the incident.
Details of the incident first surfaced on Monday (June 20) on the Instagram account @proutapp, which shared an email apparently sent by the hotel to the couple informing them that they would not be able to hold their wedding at the hotel.
The email read: “I am sorry to inform you that the hotel does not allow same-sex couples to have wedding ceremony and celebration due to the regulation.”
The post had drawn more than 2,000 likes and hundreds of comments, most of them expressing anger at the hotel for discriminating against the couple.
Responding to queries from TODAY, the Parkroyal Collection Pickering’s general manager Phil Smith said that the hotel would “like to extend its sincere apology again for causing this disappointment to both the couple and community as a whole”.
“When we were informed by our teams of this email, we immediately investigated the matter as it was not in keeping with the hotel’s position, which has been open to hosting all events from the LGBTQ community,” he said.
The hotel is located beside Hong Lim Park, the venue for the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rally Pink Dot. TODAY understands that the hotel received the query on June 19, a day after the rally was held.
“We found that the associate who had replied had made a truly regrettable mistake, with a wrongful assumption of the law, and replied without checking on this with the department leader,” Smith said.
The hotel management had spoken to the associate about the error.
“The associate feels very remorseful for this error and understands the upset it has caused for the couple, whose special day was impacted.”
Smith also said that the hotel “could have done better to ensure our team’s understanding of the regulations and our ongoing commitment to inclusivity”.
The hotel reached out to the couple on Tuesday “to apologise to them and see if we could assist them with their request”, he added.
“We notice they have accepted our apology… however, (they) have declined to now hold the event with us, which is very understandable.”
In an Instagram post on Tuesday from the same @proutapp account, a message that appears to be from the couple confirmed that the ceremony will not be at Parkroyal Collection Pickering, but that the couple had accepted the hotel’s apology.
“We hope that other hotels will be inspired by the Parkroyal Pickering and reconsider their own policies and communications towards allowing same-sex couples to hold their celebrations there,” the message read.
Where the laws stand
Lawyers approached by TODAY confirmed that the hotel would not have broken any laws had it rejected the couple from holding their wedding ceremony there, and that this decision is up to the hotel’s own policy.
Suang Wijaya from law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, who is a criminal and commercial disputes lawyer, said: “To my knowledge, there is presently no law in Singapore that prohibits a private establishment — such as a hotel — from engaging in discriminatory acts against the LGBTQ community.”
It is also not possible for a couple in Singapore to “legally compel a private establishment to serve them”, he added.
This is unlike in other countries such as the United Kingdom, where there is a law that compels private establishments not to be discriminatory in their provision of services.
Civil disputes lawyer Trent Ng said that it is legal for a same-sex couple to hold a private celebration such as a wedding ceremony in Singapore.
“However, such unions would not be marriages registrable by the Registry of Marriages under the Women’s Charter,” Ng added.
Most hotels, association silent on issue
TODAY reached out to hotels across Singapore, asking them about their policies surrounding the holding of same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Among the hotels and hotel companies that did not respond to the queries are Furama Hotels International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Singapore and Accor Hotels.
TODAY also tried to contact the Singapore Hotel Association on the matter and likewise received no response.
One hotel group that did respond to TODAY’s queries was Millennium Hotels and Resorts, which said that its hotels have “hosted a myriad of wedding functions”.
“Our wedding planners are happy to cater to bridal couples’ requirements as long as they are within legal boundaries.”
The hotel group, however, did not directly address the question of whether it was possible to hold a wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple at its hotels. — TODAY