Lesbians Sue Safari Park That Denied Them Using Couple's Discount Package

A lesbian couple in China are suing a safari park after alleging that they were barred from using a discount package for people in a relationship and told that it only applied to "a man and a woman."

The incident allegedly took place at the Chimelong Safari Park in Chinese megacity Guangzhou on May 21, a day after what is considered the unofficial Valentine's Day in the country.

The package bought online by the couple was supposed to give them a discount of 90 yuan ($14), but they were told they were not eligible for it once they arrived at the park, according to Leslie Song, 29, who wrote about the incident on the popular Chinese social media site Weibo.

The couple refused to leave the park in protest after being denied the discount and complained to its customer service staff, who put them in contact with the administrative team.

During that conversation, a staff member allegedly told them that "all the couples we know are a man and a woman ... If you have a special case, why didn't you find out clearly before you bought the ticket?" according to the South China Morning Post.

A few days after the failed trip, the couple received a refund from Ctrip, the agency they booked the visit with, but have yet to receive anything from the park.

One of the women told the Post that they attempted to contact Chimelong's social media team, but have had no response. The discount offer has been taken off Ctrip's website.

The woman, who does not want to be named, is suing the park alongside her girlfriend. The lawsuit was accepted at the Shanghai Changning district court last week after the two sides could not settle the case.

Zhong Wen, the couple's lawyer, told the Post that Chimelong's actions violated the purchasing contract by refusing to give the women a discount, as it discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation.

Although he is not sure if the couple will win the case, Wen said that "from an analytical legal point of view, I think it's quite certain that Chimelong and Ctrip had broken their contract."

Speaking to Chinese outlet Sixth Tone prior to the lawsuit being accepted, Song said that the couple decided to go public with their story as they did not "want to be silent about this.

"The categorization of the tickets and the way the staff explained it to us makes it clear that Chimelong is homophobic."

Last month's incident is not the first time that the park has been accused of homophobia, as in 2018 a person wrote on Weibo that the couple's ticket said it applied to "one man and one woman only."

Responding to the criticism at the time, Chimelong denied intolerance and said it would improve the operation of the tickets to provide "better experiences and services for everyone."

Although the Post reported that there is a growing acceptance of LGBTQ rights in China, there is no explicit mention of sexual orientation or gender identity in the country's equality law, while same-sex couples are unable to get married or adopt.

Newsweek has contacted Chimelong Safari Park and Ctrip for comment.

Chimelong Safari Park lesbian couple
A view of a sign at Chimelong Safari Park on July 6, 2013 in Guangzhou, China. A lesbian couple in China are suing a safari after they were barred from using a discount package offered to couples and told that it only applies to “a man and a woman.” Bobby Metelus/Getty Images