An Irish pub owner has been charged with discrimination after ordering a lesbian couple to stop kissing in his establishment.

Judges ruled yesterday that the request breached the Equal Status Act because it was discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The case was brought by the Equality Authority on behalf of Eileen Twomey and Myra McGuirk, against publican Michael Malone of Malone’s Pub in Cork.

Mr Malone denies discrimination insisting that he would have stopped a heterosexual couple from kissing. However, Judge Patrick Clyne pointed out at Cork District Court that people at a party in the pub on the same night were engaged in “antics” with a blow-up doll, but Mr Malone took no action.

He found Mr Malone guilty of a technical breach of the Equal Status Act.

Ms Twomey told how the landlord had approached her after she had given her partner, Ms McGuirk, “a peck on the lips,” he told her that her behaviour was unacceptable “and, if you don’t stop, I will have to ask you to leave”.

Niall Crowley, chief executive of the Equality Authority said, “The incident was traumatic for them yet they have come forward as valuable role models for the gay and lesbian community in challenging homophobia.”