Police commissioner objected to gay sauna license because it’s ‘too close to a mosque’
A Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner tried to block a sex license for a gay sauna – because it’s too close to a local mosque.
Greenhouse Health Club, which has operated in Luton for nearly two decades, had been seeking a license that would allow it to sell sex toys and show adult films.
However, the owners have now withdrawn the application, after encountering strong resistance from local residents and the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
Bedfordshire PCC Kathryn Holloway, a former TV presenter who has no first-hand experience of policing, told Luton Today that the license was inappropriate because the venue was too close to a local mosque – a five minute walk away.
She warned that granting the license would cause “widespread offence and very deep concern”, and that if it was granted “a number of potential policing issues may arise” due to a “very significant Luton mosque” based five minutes away.
Ms Holloway warned: “Luton Borough Council is usually particularly aware of matters of cultural sensitivity.
“I trust therefore that you will fully understand that, given the large and devout Muslim population in this area of the borough, there is naturally a high level of religious and cultural opposition to such a business among these residents which needs to be respected, in my view.”
Despite the intervention of the commissioner in her own capacity, a separate submission from the city’s police force had confirmed: “The Police have no concerns relating to the Greenhouse Sex Establishment application.
“We anticipate that they will continue to operate in a professional manner and liaise with the police and other responsible authorities required, as they have in previous years.”
But following the campaign against it – with hundreds of local residents filing coordinated objections to the license – the sauna decided to withdraw the license application.
The owners say they were barraged with homophobic abuse due to the campaign, with some comparing homosexuality to a “brain disease” while others claim it is a “risk to children”.
But Ms Holloway said she was not aware of any homophobic literature surrounding the campaign, telling the newspaper: “I think [the application being withdrawn] is also a win for the wider gay community as this establishment is not representative of them as a whole.”