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Homophobic Homeowner Refuses to Help Gay Family Fleeing Wildfire

Homophobic Homeowner Refuses to Help Gay Family Fleeing Wildfire


“I was told family,” the man said before driving off, leaving a gay couple and their child.

A British gay couple and their young child fleeing a fire while on vacation in Greece were denied shelter in a local house after the homeowner saw they were gay, forcing the family to stay in a hostel for those experiencing homelessness instead.

Sean Palmer, 34, and Matt Smith, 35, told PA Real Life were vacationing on the Greek island of Rhodes with a fire forced them to evacuate their hotel in Pefkos. The married couple and Smith’s unnamed six-year-old son stayed the first night sleeping in a shelter and then a local family offered to let them stay in their home until they could arrange a flight back to the U.K.

As the homeowner was lugging their luggage into the trunk, he stopped and questioned the couple.

“I was told family,” Palmer recalled the homeowner saying, with Smith responding, “We are a family.”

“But you are not man and woman,” the homeowner continued, before unloading the luggage and driving away.

“We were just absolutely gobsmacked,” Palmer recalled.

It was another shocking twist on what was supposed to be their first big dream vacation as a family.

They arrived in Greece on July 18, but their dream vacation turned into a nightmare only days later as a fire broke out on the island. The first sign the fire might seriously impact their vacation came when the water and electricity kept going on and off at their hotel, but they knew there were in trouble when the hotel sent home its staff to evacuate their families, leaving the guests stranded with no restaurant or services. Then electricity was cut off to the entire island.

They were able to find a restaurant still open and running on generator power, but were given the order to pack up and prepare to evacuate later that night. A bus picked up Palmer, Smith, and Smith's son along with the other stranded guests, but only ferried them to a nearby school where they would spend the night. One of the school’s teachers later told the family he had found a home for them to stay in the next few days. The teacher must not have told the homeowners the men were queer.

The couple were forced to stay the night in a hostel for the homeless. They were able to fly home the following night.

“We had been awake from six o’clock on the Saturday morning until 11 on the Monday,” Palmer told PA Real Life. “But we were just grateful to be back in the U.K.”

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