South Africa’s Commission on Gender Equality has ruled that two gay-men-only guesthouses in Cape Town are legitimate under the constitution.

The Amsterdam guesthouses, owned by Dutch native Michiel Spaapen, are popular among international gay male visitors to the city.

The commission’s ruling was in response to a complaint filed by the discredited Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA) last year to the Human Rights Commission, which in turn referred the matter to the gender equality body.

The GLA claimed that the guesthouses’ policies were discriminatory towards lesbians and heterosexuals and were thus unconstitutional.

In its ruling, the commission said that the guesthouses serve a legitimate interest in creating a “comfortable environment for gay men where they can express themselves freely.”

It went on to state that, “It is the commission’s view that accommodation of this nature is necessary in our democratic society to protect or advance legitimate interests of the aforementioned groups.”

The guesthouses’ blatant “men only” advertising was however criticised by the commission as being offensive and “likely to attract some criticism.”

Last year Spaapen told the Cape Argus that, “if according to the constitution we cannot operate, then who am I to challenge that?”

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