The rural tourism business in Viana de Castelo which shot to ‘controversial fame’ earlier this month for its ban on “gays, lesbians, football fans and festival goers” has been forced to eat humble pie – and could face a fine for its discrimination of €32,500.
ASAE – Portugal’s health and safety authority – has already seen to it that the ban has been replaced with the pledge: “under the terms of current legislation, access to this space is free”.
Whether this will encourage gays, lesbians, football fans and festival goers remains to be seen – but ASAE has determined that the pretty rural retreat of Casa d’João Enes, and other outlets owned by businessman Paulo Bandeira, had no business trying to exclude them.
Needless to say, Bandeira is none too delighted with ASAE’s intervention.
He has told Diário de Notícias that the hotel will be elaborating a statement, but that it will “certainly not” be sent to Diário de Notícias.
The paper explains that it was as a result of its report on Casa d’João Enes’ inflammatory customer do’s and don’ts that ASAE descended on the business in the first place.
Along with its discriminatory advice, written in black and white on the hotel website, the retreat was also found wanting over the maintenance of its fire extinguishers and its “alternative resolution of disputes”.
What kind of disputes is not explained, but Paulo Bandeira has shown himself to be something of a maverick when it comes to the niceties of the Portuguese Constitution.
“I am the owner of these establishments and it is I who define what kind of client I want, and who I want to exclude or include. If I want tall people or thin people, fat or short…” he told DN when reporters first got in touch with him.
And he may have a point.
As DN explains, the Constitution is quite clear when it comes to sexual orientation, but not so helpful when it comes to “race, type or deficiency”.
It is a failing that Catarina Marcelino, secretary of state for equality, says the government hopes to settle during its current mandate by elaborating a law banning “multiple discriminations” “like those that exist in Great Britain and Germany”.
For now, ASAE is working on what kind of fine Bandeira could face, after the issue caused a veritable storm of outrage on social media.
The hotel owner will have an opportunity to put his side of the story, adds DN.
According to the paper, if the business is owned by an individual, ASAE’s case could elicit a fine of between €125 and €3,250.
If it is owned by a company, the fine could range from €1,250 to 32,500.
And if the business shows no inclination to pay up, ASAE has the ability to resort to the courts.