A lesbian couple allege discrimination at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, China. (Bobby Metelus/Getty)
A lesbian couple are suing a zoo that barred them from buying a discounted couple’s ticket, claiming it only applied to “a man and a woman”.
The women have filed a lawsuit against the Chimelong Safari Park, a zoo in China’s megacity Guangzhou, and online travel giant Ctrip, the South China Morning Post reports.
They visited the park on 21 May, the unofficial Valentine’s Day in China, with a pre-booked package which should’ve given them a discount of 90 yuan ($14).
But when they arrived at Chimelong they were allegedly denied entry and told they were ineligible for the discount as it was only meant for “a man and a woman”.
“We respect all the protocols and regulations of the park,” the couple wrote on Weibo. “However, we strongly defy Chimelong Safari Park’s behaviour of arbitrarily excluding same-sex pairs from the definition of ‘couples’.”
The women were told they had to pay ¥300 for each individual ticket, rather than the discounted ¥510 couples deal. In protest, they refused to leave.
>When they complained to customer service they were referred to the company’s administrative department.
“All the couples we know are a man and a woman,” a staff member reportedly told them. “If you have a special case, why didn’t you find out clearly before you bought the ticket?”
After two hours without success they eventually left the park. A few days after the failed trip the couple received a refund from Ctrip, the agency they booked the visit with, but have yet to receive anything from the park.
One of the women told the Post that they attempted to contact Chimelong’s social media team, but have had no response. The discount offer has now been taken off Ctrip’s website.
“I don’t want my girlfriend to think that being in a relationship with me means tolerating injustice,” said one woman, who wished to remain anonymous. “I want our love not to be discriminated against and for love in our community not to be overlooked.”
According to Zhong Wen, the couple’s lawyer, “it’s quite certain” that both the park and Ctrip were in violation of the purchasing contract.
The incident reflects the longstanding discrimination LGBT+ people face in China, and unfortunately, it’s not the first time the park’s been accused of homophobia.
Chimelong faced a near-identical scandal in 2018 after another same-sex couple were barred from purchasing the couples’ ticket package and stonewalled from entering the park.
Responding at the time, Chimelong Safari Park administrators denied intolerance and vowed to amend the policy, promising to provide “better experiences and services for everyone”.