The landlord of a Wiltshire pub who allegedly placed a homophobic sign outside his premises has pleaded not guilty to a public order offence at Chippenham Magistrates Court.

The pub’s former landlords John Williams, and his 26-year-old partner Lee, believe the sign, which read ‘faggots and mince not on the menu’, refers to them and made a formal complaint to police.

Gay equality group Stonewall said the sign could breach new equality laws which came into force on April 30.

Mr Williams and his partner left the pub in September after 15 months at the helm.

He told the Wiltshire Times of his disgust, after seeing the sign.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was fuming. That is taking the mickey out of every gay person in the town,” he said.

“We didn’t run a gay pub, but it wouldn’t matter if we did. We have never even spoken to these people.

“I think it’s disgusting because we are not a disease. We are recognised in law now; we have equal rights and can take part in civil ceremonies.

“I thought we were past all this. This is going back to the dark ages. It is discrimination against us and everyone else who used the pub.”

The paper reports that the landlord, Mr Adrian Taylor, 54, is due to appear in court again in September.