A woman turned away from a gay bar on the grounds of her gender has lodged a human rights complaint.
Audrey Vachon, a 20 year old college student, was refused service and asked to leave Le Stud, a gay bar in Montreal’s village, last Tuesday.
Ms. Vachon has since made a complaint to Quebec’s human rights commission, based on Article 10 of the Quebec Charter, which prevents sexual discrimination.
Ms. Vachon was sitting in the bar with her father, psychologist Gilles Vachon. She recalls that a member of staff told Mr. Vachon: “This place is exclusively reserved for men, we don’t serve women, I would ask you to leave,” according to Dose.ca.
Ms. Vachon told the Canadian Press on Wednesday: “On the spot I didn’t believe it, I thought it was a bad joke.
“I didn’t say a word until I’d left. I was too shocked.
“I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, I felt guilty that I’d even gone there, like I’d done something wrong.
“I’m scandalized [to be treated this way by] a community which has suffered discrimination in the past.”
Hans Jeniak, Montreal Gay Chamber of Commerce spokesman, told CTV.ca that the group feels Le Stud has made an error and should respect Quebec’s Charter of Rights.
He also expressed understanding for the desire of some gay men to have their own space.
He said: “We’re trying to blur the lines.
“There are, however, some remnants, I would say places from the past, who don’t exactly feel comfortable around straight people because they were discriminated against for I don’t know how many years.”
Varying views on the issue from the gay community have been expressed.
Jean-Marc Cardinal, a gay man who works next door to Le Stud, agreed with the banning of women from the bar.
He said: “We need our place, like women have their gyms, places were guys are not allowed,” according to CTV.ca.
He also, however, gave the opinion that the gay community as a whole should be more open:
“We need to grow up. As people accept gay people, gay people should be more open now that they are accepted.”
Another village bar proprietor, Peter Sergakis, disagreed with Le Stud’s policy.
He told CTV.ca: “This should not be happening, it’s like going back 20 years ago when the gays were intimidated in straight bars.
“I’m sure the owner is going to change the habits.
“This is not acceptable in 2007.”
Commission spokesman Robert Sylvestre said that complaints such as these are rare.
In the period 2005-2006 only one case of sexual discrimination in a Quebec establishment was filed.