Royal bookshops accused of homophobia

Several British royal palaces have been accused of homophobia.

Five royal buildings have been attacked for refusing to stock Time Out Gay and Lesbian London and could face legal action for discrimination.

Gay rights groups say the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House and Kew Palace, may also be investigated by the Charities Commission over their refusal to sell the book in their stores.

Foyles, which ran sales outlets at the tourist attractions between April 2006 and April 2007, had planned to stock the guide among other travel books but they claim books were vetoed by the Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that manages the properties on behalf of the queen.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual equality organisation said: “On the face of it, it does seem that the Historic Royal Palaces risks legal action under Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007.

“As they are a charity there is also risk they will be investigated by charities commission if they refuse to stock these guides about London’s lesbian and gay attractions. However, as the royal family itself is one of the only families not to have a single gay member, it is perhaps understandable why such a decision has been taken.”

The under Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 forbids anti-gay discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It seems the only reason this entirely legitimate book was excluded was because of its gay and lesbian content, which is blatant homophobia. It’s shocking, pure prejudice.

“The queen should make it clear that any form of discrimination – whether racism, homophobia or misogyny – is unacceptable in royal palaces or by those who manage them.”

A spokesperson for the Historic Royal Palaces denied they had refused to stock the guide because of homophobic attitudes, and insisted they approved stock based on market research.

She said: “The books and other products that we choose reflect feedback from visitors and meet the purchasing habits of our customers, for example, we find that our visitors tend to have their own guides to London with them when they visit.”