A bar in Yorkshire has come under heavy criticism from gay rights groups after one of its employees identified two straight, male customers as “gay guys”, on a receipt.

The employee at Judson’s Bar in Pocklington, issued the till receipt which referred to Al Butler, 26, and an old school friend who went out for a meal together as, “gay guys”. The note on the receipt was used to indicate to staff where customers were sitting, in order to identify them for service.

Mr Butler has said he is not gay, but that he was offended by the use of the term, as he found it unnecessary that the bar had identified him and his friend by their perceived sexuality. He made a complaint after he spotted the receipt. Equality campaigners also criticised the incident as “inappropriate”.

He said: “I was surprised. I would not expect it anywhere else. It’s as equally unacceptable as racism. I don’t think it’s homophobic as it’s not a bad thing to be called gay – although I’m not – but I think it’s prejudiced. It’s jumping to a conclusion without the need to do so.”

The aerospace engineer from Derby, who was visiting his home town, said that when he complained to the bar person, he did not receive an apology, and that he had also complained to the bar owner.

He said: “In that situation I would expect a ‘sorry’ or ‘it won’t happen again’, but we got nothing.”

The bar has said it has “apologised unreservedly”, for the incident, and the staff member, who had been working at the bar for only several days, has since been disciplined.

The owner of the bar Peter Ward told The Press, Yorkshire: “We have apologised unreservedly. While it was completely wrong, I don’t feel it was prejudiced.

“It was completely unprofessional and it is not what our business is about.”

Responding to the controversy, James Lawrence of Stonewall, said: “Incidents like this highlight the importance of staff training. Identifying customers by their perceived sexual orientation is unnecessary and could cause offence. It’s right that the bar should apologise to the customers for this inappropriate behaviour.”

A spokesperson from the York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Forum also commented, saying: “Clearly this is an unacceptable and wrong stereotype made by a member of staff at the bar, but it is also a mistake which could cause great offence and upset to anyone involved, regardless of their sexuality.

“We would welcome any business to contact us should they feel their staff require training on issues of equality, where we would be more than happy to assist.”

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