What should have been a dream honeymoon that set them off on the
course of married life, resulted in two weeks of sheer hell for
newlyweds Gemma (pictured, left) and Tamsin Harman (pictured,
The pair, who met on the dating website Pink Sofa just two years
ago, celebrated their love in a Civil Partnership at Leeds Town
Hall in April this year.
"It was definitely love at first sight" explained Gemma, 24,
"Tamsin came to visit me in Swindon and after a week, I moved up to
Yorkshire to live with her."
Tamsin, 36, proposed on September 11, 2010 and a shocked and
delighted Gemma immediately accepted.
They dreamt of a magical honeymoon which they would remember for
the rest of their lives and instead of receiving masses of toasters
and fondue sets, the couple asked their wedding guests to
contribute to their honeymoon instead.
"That was really awkward" explained Tamsin "we spent ages
talking about the best way to ask for contributions without
sounding rude so instead, we enclosed a poem inside the wedding
invitation. After looking at several countries, we decided on the
Dominican Republic as it looked just stunning."
"We set off on our honeymoon on Friday 13 May. Maybe the date
should have given us a clue about what to expect," said Tamsin,
"but the flight was amazing, the Thomson attendants on-board were
really excited that we were on our honeymoon, they could not have
been happier for us."
But, it was upon landing in the Dominican Republic that the
gloss of the perfect honeymoon began to get tarnished. "We went
into the airport and found our Thomson rep," said Gemma. "He was
congratulating the straight married couples who were also there on
honeymoon. I told him that Tamsin and I were also on honeymoon and
he just ignored me."
"Things got worse when we arrived at the Rui Mambo complex,"
explained Tamsin. "We went to the welcome meeting and the rep
specifically asked everyone to let him know if they were there for
a special occasion as he would arrange some extras such as
arranging romantic meals, rum and fruit baskets in rooms and
ensuring that VIP treatment was given to honeymooners."
Tamsin and Gemma told their rep once again that they were on
honeymoon but his promises to ensure their stay was extra special
"We asked several times for him to sort out a romantic meal,"
said Gemma "but he never did. Neither did we find anything
delivered to our room to celebrate our honeymoon. On one occasion,
a miniature bottle of rum and some fruit arrived which carried a
card that said 'Happy Birthday Miss Harpex.' It wasn't our birthday
and neither of us are called Harpex!"
But, was it homophobia or just a case of confusion among the
"Homophobia definitely," declared Tamsin. "Even when we were
booking our honeymoon the travel agent put on our information for
the rep that we were honeymooners. According to our rep when we
were there, no information about this had been passed on about us
but it had been passed on about the straight couples."
Halfway through the stay, everyone in the hotel was given an
hours' notice to pack up and ship out to one of the sister hotels
in the area after being curtly informed by the rep that the hotel
was closing for a refurb. As well as this sudden departure Tamsin
and Gemma's eagerly anticipated trip to swim with dolphins was
cancelled and never re-booked. "We just felt like idiots," Tamsin
Tamsin suffers from M.E and says that the stress of her
honeymoon exacerbated her illness. In a state of exhaustion she had
to cancel one of their planned trips. The pair were told to return
to their previous hotel to obtain a refund where they argued with
Thompson reps who informed her that there was nothing wrong with
Gemma, who is generally fit and well, became so stressed about
the attitude of the Thomson staff who refused to refer to their
stay as a honeymoon, that some of her hair began to fall out,
leaving a small bald patch on the back of head.
Relieved when their 'nightmare' two weeks finally came to an
end, it appeared that voicing their dissatisfaction may have been
heard. One of the reps told the couple she would try to upgrade
their flight seats to premier for the return journey as 'a kind of
sorry for everything that's happened.'
"But," said Tamsin "when we checked in, our tickets were not for
premier seats. We asked another rep about it and I need to say, had
we been in the UK, we would have reported him to the police for a
public order offence due to the way he spoke to us."
"He just screamed at us," continued Gemma. "He shouted and
called us liars, he said nothing had ever been mentioned about
premier seats. People were actually looking over at us because he
was shouting so loudly."
"I just got on that plane and broke down," said Tamsin. "I was
It's now been four months since their honeymoon, yet the couple
are still unable to put the practicalities and the memories behind
them. Thomson eventually refunded the couple £625 for loss of
booked trips and subsequent inconvenience but refuse to acknowledge
that Gemma and Tamsin have suffered discrimination. The newlyweds
are about to embark upon a potentially lengthy legal battle against
Thomson claiming the company discriminated against them on
the basis they are gay.
Thomson have stated that they are a diverse company and add:
"Unfortunately we let them down but we let them down as customers.
We got the customer service wrong and they are wrong to believe it
was anything to do with them personally.
"The holiday didn't live up to their expectations and it didn't
live up to our standards. But it could have happened to
Tamsin and Gemma wanted a honeymoon that they would never forget
and that is exactly what they got but sadly, for all the wrong