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Couple thrown out
of Mexican hotel over gay kiss

Couple thrown out
of Mexican hotel over gay kiss

A same-sex kiss in a swimming pool, which two men say got them thrown out of a luxury hotel, has caused a stir in traditionally macho Mexico, where open displays of homosexuality are frowned upon. Gerardo Eliud and his partner, Samir Habdu, told police in Los Cabos, a plush beach resort city popular with U.S. tourists, that security guards beat them up and threw them into the street with their luggage after spotting them kissing in the hotel pool in December.

But when leftist deputies demanded an investigation into the incident in congress this week, they were angrily shouted down by legislators from other parties who argued the subject was unfit for discussion in the chamber. The ruckus highlights the discomfort about homosexuality in this predominantly Catholic country, despite recent openness toward gays in some areas. "It is a question of profound conservatism, intolerance, and backwardness," Party of the Democratic Revolution deputy Inti Munoz said of the deputies' reaction. Congress voted that the issue was not urgent and shelved it in a commission for analysis.

Eliud, a 27-year-old public relations officer who lives with 24-year-old air steward Habdu in Mexico City, said he and his partner shared only a discreet peck. "It was a two-second kiss; we didn't even touch lips," he said, adding that the couple chose the Hotel Presidente InterContinental because of the stated gay-friendly policy of its parent company.

A spokesman for the hotel said it had documents and witness statements proving the couple's version of the events was false. He insisted the hotel was gay-friendly and said the pair were thrown out for "making inappropriate advances at other guests." The hotel in Los Cabos, a magnet for foreign yachters and golfers, pays British group InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, to use its brand.

Eliud said that when asked why they had thrown them out, two security guards told them, "We don't like faggots." He said he and his partner, who are both Mexican, filed a criminal complaint against the hotel on charges of assault and the theft of some of their belongings and that they had approached Mexico's human rights commission. "This can happen to anyone," said Eliud. "Many people keep quiet or don't say anything for fear of being in the press. We want this not to happen to anyone else, and we want justice to be done."

In recent years it has become common to see same-sex couples holding hands in Mexico City's trendiest neighborhoods, but it is unusual for gay and lesbian couples to publicly show affection in smaller cities and almost unheard of in rural Mexico. The matter also highlights how international companies face cultural barriers to promoting gay tourism in countries unused to seeing same-sex couples in public. (Reuters)

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