London Zoo's 'Gay Sunday', where homosexuals gained an additional discount and extra facilities at the venue, has been condemned by a Christian group.
Christian Voice said the event was 'blatantly discriminatory' and called for a similar event where families with children would be given the same discount and the same access to events as the homosexuals.
Members of the group held a witness outside the Zoo and gave out leaflets with the headline: 'No favouritism for gays - we say discounts for all at London Zoo!'
Gay Sunday, which was only advertised in the homosexual press, and which could only be booked via a special page on the London Zoo website, involved the Zoo giving homosexuals:
- A staggering 20% discount,
- Access to the Mappin Terraces, where the bears are housed,
- Admission both to the VIP chill-out lounge in the Mappin Pavilion, and to the prestigious Members' Lawn and Terrace,
- An 'exclusive garden party' - that's how London Zoo described it - with a barbecue and a bar, and
- A live band.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:
"London Zoo already charges enough - it costs £11.00, without the voluntary donation, just to get a 3-year-old child into the Zoo. Adults - that's anyone 16 or over - are £14.50.
"OK, there is a 10% discount if you book online, but those booking online for 'Gay Sunday' had a whopping 20% off. They only paid £11.60, which is £1.45 less than the £13.05 everyone else has to pay when they book online.
"Incredibly, by paying less, the gays got more. The ordinary punter didn't have an exclusive garden party or a barbecue - they had to queue for their overpriced food and drink with everyone else,
"They weren't entertained by a live band, they weren't treated like a VIP in the chill-out lounge in the Mappin Pavilion, and as for getting into the Members' Lawn and Terrace - that was for the favoured few on 'Gay Sunday'.
"Nor did the paying public have their normal view of the animals up on the Mappin Terraces. That was only open to those with a 'Gay Sunday' wristband. Ordinary folk booking online weren't told part of the Zoo would be shut off.
"This event was only advertised in the homosexual press, notably in the 'Pink Paper', which was partnering London Zoo for the event. Latterly, posters were put up at London Zoo, which might have acted as a warning to those with children to avoid Sunday 16th altogether. A picture in the press last week showed that Guy the Gorilla was somewhat under-impressed by the posters.
"London Zoo should not treat homosexuals as a favoured group. Everyone should have had entrance to a smart garden party on the Mappin Terraces, get the best view of all the animals and have had free admission to the Members' Lawn and Terrace, or nobody should have done.
"Even more to the point, everyone booking on a particular day should have the same online discount. It is blatantly discriminatory to have a special 20% discount only available to those who read homosexual newspapers.
"Although the Zoo website claimed 'Gay Sunday' is open to 'people of all sexual orientations,' in practice, only those 'in the know' about it clicked on it, and if ordinary people, especially those with children, found the page by accident or in the 'events' page, they were unlikely to take themselves along to an event like that.
"The bottom line is, London Zoo should treat everyone the same. There should have been an automatic 20% discount for everyone on the primary booking page for London Zoo for this day with a 10% discount on the turnstiles for those just turning up, who are mainly the tourists the Zoo is trying to attract. There should have been entertainment and a barbecue for everyone and the Mappin Terraces should have been fully open to the paying public as usual. Nor should it have encouraged homosexuals as a group or have been called 'Gay Sunday'.
"Either that, or the Zoo should now have a 'Family Sunday' where people with children get in cheap and are treated like VIP's. After all, a mere 1% of the population is homosexual. Why should they get preferred treatment? We should be creating a more family-friendly environment to encourage tourists to visit
. In fact, London Zoo is overwhelmingly patronised by people with children, and is hardly the most appropriate place for a 'Gay Sunday' anyway.
"The irony is, the Government brought in a law earlier this year to ban discrimination against homosexuals. Now we see it working out: in
, homosexuals may not be discriminated against, but a family venue like London Zoo can discriminate in their favour. It just isn't right."