Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What happened to the right of admission?

I was astonished to read of an Australian court's ruling about prostitution in a hotel.  The Telegraph reports:

Australia's hotel industry has been rocked by a court's ruling that a prostitute was illegally discriminated against by a motel owner who refused to rent her a room to work from.

The ruling has stunned hotel and motel owners, who thought they had a right to decide what sort of businesses were operating from their premises.

The prostitute, identified only as GK, went to Australia's courts alleging discimination after being banned from the Drovers Rest Motel in the coal mining town of Moranbah in Queensland.

The prostitute stayed at the motel 17 times in two years before the owners discovered in 2010 that she was bringing clients to her room. She was then banned from staying there.

. . .

Richard Munro, chief executive of the Accommodation Association of Australia, a tourism industry lobby group, said the Queensland and Australian governments should consider changing laws to ensure that hotel and motel owners can decide what sort of businesses are being operated under their roofs.

"It's absolutely illogical," Mr Munro said. "If a hairdresser decided to set up shop in the motel and started inviting people in to get their hair cut, I think the motel owner would have the right to say, 'Hang on, that's a different business operating out of my business'. If a prostitute decided to start working out of a shopping mall, the owners would have something to say about it. There is some protection for the rights of the motel owner here."

Mr Munro said his group would seek legal advice after hearing the tribunal's reasons. He said a prostitute could attract customers late at night who could knock on the wrong door and disturb other guests.

"If the amenity of the guests is disturbed, owners should have the right to protect the overall guests' experience by removing people who are disturbing the peace," Munro said.

Janelle Fawkes, chief executive of the Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, said the ruling was a major win for the prostitution industry throughout Australia.

There's more at the link.

I was under the impression that if an establishment put up a sign saying 'Right Of Admission Reserved', and/or printed that on tickets, bookings, etc., then it had the final say as to whether or not anyone would be admitted, whether or not they'd already paid for the use of the facility(ies) involved.  That's how, for example, a drunk man may be refused admission to a bar, even though he's not committed any offense at all.  I'm dumbfounded to find that a prostitute might be able to override that and demand the right to use a room for business purposes.  Certainly, if I were a guest at that hotel, I'd be extremely concerned about my security, with unknown people wandering in and out of her room.

I think this ruling is a travesty of justice.  I hope it's overturned soon.  Would our Australian readers please let us know what transpires?



Anonymous said...

We don't seem to like it. See here:


AngelaG said...

Ok, I agree that this is a bad ruling, violates the business owner's rights and all, but:

"Certainly, if I were a guest at that hotel, I'd be extremely concerned about my security, with unknown people wandering in and out of her room."

As opposed to your best friends, who would be staying in the rooms if they were unoccupied by a prostitute? Come on, it's a motel. You'd be surrounded by strangers coming and going at all hours. Let's not go and inject the culture of fear into what is a basic property rights dispute.

Phssthpok said...

meanwhile in 'Murka we have .gov trying to seize a motel because of illegal activity (drug dealing) THAT THE HOTEL MANAGER REPORTED AND WORKED TIRELESSLY TO KEEP OUT.
Maybe it's just the cynic in me but I can't help but wonder if this isn't part of a set-up to do the same...bust the motel for illegal activities.

Anonymous said...

Secular Humanism run amuck!


Luke said...

Interesting article. I'd imagine drunks can be refused service under the terms of the "responsible service of alcohol" licensing requirements, while I'm not sure there is an equivalent on prostitution in Aus. To be honest I wasn't sure prostitution was legal here until this piece.

Anyways, the problem is that if prostitution is legal, how would you justify throwing out a particular patron if they abide by the terms of the accomodation contract?

You can't throw someone out on grounds of religion or race, so why in terms of their profession? Most establishments go out of their way to provide business facilities and encourage conferences etc and also don't give a damn if anyone checks in for an intimate rendeveux. In fact, many hotels offer Valentine's day offers, and many married couples check in on their anniversary for some personal time.

So I'd imagine that while no one wants prostitutes in their establishment, well, how can you justify it legally? If the hypothetical hairdresser mebtioned ran their business from the room, I doubt they'd have kicked up a fuss.

The problem's not about letting people use your facilities for business or sex, the problem is having legalized prostitution.

Just my 2cents.

Luan - Queensland, Australia

Byw, yes I know the arguments for legalized prostitution, and I concede it's probably better having things above board than push underground, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it or agree with it.