The Commission for Gender Equality has ruled in favour of allowing gay guest houses on the Western Cape to exclude heterosexual couples if they would prefer to do so.

Previously excluding straight guests had been seen as a form of discrimination, and was not allowed by law.

Cape Town has become a popular gay holiday destination, with the attractions of beautiful beaches, lively nightlife and a thriving music scene. Websites such as Gaymoneky.com have sprung up to cater to this market, offering advice on where to go and what to do to.

Cape Town tourist officer, Mariette du Toit said that she thought there was a place in the industry for gay-only guest houses to accommodate this growing sector of the industry in comfort.

Though whether segregated guest houses will make being a gay tourist safer in South Africa remains to be seen.

It is feared that drawing attention to the fact that all of the guests are gay may not be the safest option for tourists.

In some areas of the Cape Town, hate attacks are not uncommon, when gay people have been easily identified.

Recently the gay rights group Triangle Project feared for the safety of three lesbian friends, after a photograph identifying them as gay was published in the South Africa Sunday Times.

The picture illustrated the story of the death of Zoliswa Nkonyana, who had been in the same lesbian football team, and who had been beaten to death with bricks and stones by a gang of men when they discovered that she was gay.

The Triangle Project said it wanted to further convey that Nkonyana’s death shows that violent crimes, such as rape or assault on the grounds of sexual orientation, remain a reality in Cape Town.

The Cape Town Tourist Office is keen to stress that these attacks are in isolated areas of the city, and that most gay visitors have a wonderful and trouble free experience. As more efforts are made to accommodate and welcome the economic force of gay tourism, perhaps these attitudes will become less common and less tolerated.