It’s cheering to see travel and tourism operators catering for the LGBTQ community… when they get it right. Sadly, an incident last week in Singapore shows that some can still get things very wrong.
Royal Albatross Superyacht is a luxury, ‘tall ship’ schooner based in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore. It takes bookings for corporate charters, weddings and other private events, as well as hosting a popular dinner cruise for members of the public.
It recently decided to hold a dedicated LGBTQ dinner cruise. It got in touch with a local LGBTQ dating app, Prout, to ask them if they’d help promote it on social media. Prout duly posted information about the cruise to its Facebook page.
However, soon after the posting appeared, the company contacted Prout to ask questions about its followers.
“Within 10 mins of our social media and telegram post going public, the company contacted us to ask if there were any “transsexuals” following us,” a spokesperson for Prout said on Facebook last week.
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“After further communication, the company said that they are open only to those who are “classy and willing to spend”, and not targeting the “trashy transsexual kind who only want to create trouble”. Upon hearing this, we immediately took down all the posts related to that event.”
Prout went on to condemn the company.
“Firstly, as a LGBTQ community group, we want to emphasize that marginalized communities are not here to be exploited by brands and companies to tap on the pink dollar for. If a company is not truly inclusive and does not contribute to uplifting the community, we have no wish to collaborate with them.
“Secondly, to call the trans community “trashy” is offensive and degrading. Transgender persons have historically been discriminated, and it is utterly dehumanizing to use the word “trashy” as it reinforces stigma against them.”
It also criticized the person who had contacted them for using the term “transsexual”, which has largely been replaced with transgender, and which some trans people find offensive.
Prout also posted screenshots of the exchange.
Not long after Prout’s Facebook posting, Royal Albatross Superyacht took to Facebook to issue a prompt apology. It said the event aimed to “provide a private romantic dinner cruise experience without judgment.”
It went on to say, “Yesterday, a staff member communicated privately with someone and used a bad choice of words to address our target audience. The comments do not represent the position of this company, we retract them entirely and we apologize. We have since corrected the staff member and we will ensure we are more sensitive when it comes to our future communications. In hindsight, we were naïve not to take into consideration the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ community. We are sincerely sorry to have offended by what was said, it was not our intent to exclude any particular group. We welcome everyone.”
It added that the LGBTQ event had been put on hold while they better educate themselves.
“We have suspended our #LoveIsLove sail as we need to educate ourselves on the diverse communities. We invite any group organizers who would be interested in helping us and or holding events like these to contact us privately. Again, we apologize to anyone that was offended.”
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The ship’s founder and CEO, Peter L Pela told Coconuts the event would go ahead at a later date.
“We have already started looking into providing diversity training to our staff as we do need to understand more about the sensitivities involved. I would also like to add we are only postponing our plans to hold such an event and we are looking forward to holding a successful event in the future where everyone is welcome.”