Current Affairs

Government tells gay bars to let in straights

Benjamin Cohen February 27, 2006
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As predicted on in November of last year, gay bars and clubs will be unable to turn away straight revellers on the basis of their sexuality or gender when the Equality Bill comes into force, according to a leaked Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) memo.

The Sunday Times claim that Meg Munn, the minister for women and equality is to publish regulations for gay venues next month.

“Some gay bars employ door staff who may screen potential customers wishing to enter by asking them questions designed to establish their sexual orientation or familiarity with the local gay scene.” The leaked memorandum states. “If customers were turned away only because their answers to these questions indicated that they were straight, this could be discrimination.”

However, some venues may welcome a proviso that: “A gay bar would still legitimately be able to turn away customers who they believed might be disruptive, or might wish to enter the bar to cause trouble.”

Within the underground gay scene within London, there are a growing number of gay men only and gay women only clubs, where admission is limited to one gender or another. One of the most popular of these venues, is Central Station, a Kings Cross based club that offers events that are men only and allow nudity.

Alan Roberts, the promoter of the Buff night at the club told that in practice the law can not be enforced: “Where as I may just say to a woman now, you can’t come in because you’re not a gay man, I will just say, not tonight love. As the licensee, I have the right to refuse admission to anyone at my discretion.”

Mr Roberts claims that there are practical reasons for not allowing women into his club: “firstly, many of the men will not be comfortable with their presence, particularly if they are in a state of undress. Secondly, our staff are not geared up to dealing with women who can get very aggressive when they have too much to drink.”

A spokesperson for the DTI said: “we do not comment on leaks but can confirm that regulations will be formalised following a consultation period that will begin shortly.”

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