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Gay-friendly hotel accuses German Air Force of discrimination after last-minute cancellation

Gay-friendly hotel accuses German Air Force of discrimination after last-minute cancellation
A Berlin hotel advertised for gay couples has complained of unfair treatment by members of the German Air Force, who allegedly cancelled a group booking after becoming aware of the hotel’s leaning.

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The staff of ‘The Two Hotel’ in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district penned a letter to German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, saying that they “felt very discriminated against” after room reservations for one of the aircraft crews of the Special Air Mission Wing of the German armed forces were abruptly cancelled on the day of arrival, despite the hefty penalty. The hotel believes the only reason was the hotel’s leaning towards homosexual guests.

"The ladies and gentlemen have on this day canceled their eleven rooms in our hotel due to its orientation on homosexuals. Cancellation fee: over €6,000. This, although we are a very nice hotel with great rooms and equipment,” the hotel wrote in an email to the defense minister dated February 7, which was published by the Berliner Morgenpost on Thursday.

The hotel was reportedly chosen as all other places were packed in anticipation of the Berlinale Film Festival, and due to the annual Fruit Logistica trade show.

The crew permanently stationed at Cologne Bonn Airport was supposed to spend two nights at the hotel. However, on the day of their planned arrival, the crew members, including two women, reportedly asked to cancel their reservations and be provided with another accommodation.

Although the ministry acknowledged that the decision by the crew to annul the order came after they had become familiar with the information contained on the hotel’s web site, it refused to consider the subsequent cancellation as a violation of the equality principle.

The ministry explained that the members of the crew were offended, not by the essence of the hotel’s representation, but by the “obscene” way in which potential guests were forced to handle their applications.

In order to reserve a room at the facility, one has to “click on an icon, which is in the genital area of a naked man,” the ministry’s spokesman said, adding that after it was discovered by the crew members, “a change of accommodation was initiated.”

Their prudery will cost the defense budget €6,000, which came as an unpleasant surprise to the ministry. The official who was handling the issue misinterpreted the terms of cancellation, and mistakenly believed the cancellation would be free of charge, the ministry’s spokesman said.

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On its official website, the hotel offers a range of “exclusive advantages” such as “early check-in and early check-out,” free Wi-Fi, as well as “free cancellation before 18h,” all on a background of two half-naked men engaged in a pillow fight. The hotel, which belongs to the international Axel Hotel group, brands itself as “the new and most Heterofriendly, urban and trendy meeting point of the city” and boasts of its proximity to the "famous gay district of Schoenberg.”

Concluding the letter, the hotel reminded von der Leyden of her own commitment to promoting diversity in the German Army, with the controversial 'Sex orientation and identity in the army' seminar in late January.

“The sexual orientations of the population are also represented among troops. Whether homo-, bi-, or transsexual, the capabilities of all members of the Bundeswehr are needed and should be systematically used,” read the statement by the ministry issued at the time.

The initiative, however, did not sit well with the military establishment.

“For me this it is not clear what is the sense of this event. I don’t know the instances when homosexuals were discriminated in the army,” Harald Kujat, a former German armed forces general inspector, said at the time, while Germany’s Social Democratic Party defense spokesman Rainer Arnold accused the minister of setting the “wrong priorities,” and at the same time keeping important issues like defense projects “away from her desk.”

The hotel is now awaiting an official response from the ministry, which is in the works at the moment, according to its spokesman.