Wetherspoons accused of homophobia after demanding gay men prove they’re in a COVID bubble

Emma Powys Maurice December 10, 2020
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Wetherspoon's staff left the men feeling like "second class citizens" (Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket/ Getty)

Two single gay men who share coronavirus support bubble have accused Wetherspoons of homophobia after staff quizzed them exclusively on their living situation.

The pair, who are in their 50s, say they were given the “third degree” by staff at the The Green Ginger pub in Torquay, Devon, and asked to provide proof they were living together.

This evidence wasn’t required for the many mixed-sex couples visiting the pub, they claim, noting that these customers were left to eat in peace at the bar downstairs.

“I feel the management were thoughtless in discriminating against us and had no clue as to what would constitute proof of cohabiting,” one of the men, who did not want to be named, told DevonLive.

“It made us feel a bit like second class citizens being singled out for the ‘third degree’ for being a male couple.”

The men visited the pub on 4 December, two days after the national lockdown ended and Torquay was placed in tier two local restrictions. Adults living alone are permitted to form a support bubble and can visit venues such as pubs and restaurants together. They are not required to live in the same household to do this.

But a Wetherspoons manager told the pair they needed to prove they lived together in order to conform with the new regulations.

“I said that I did not carry such information and the door person agreed that he did not know how anybody could provide proof of that on demand,” one of the men said.

“This would indicate no other customers had been asked that question previously. I gave up and said that I did not have proof and would not carry such information but that we were two single guys in their late 50s living alone and in an exclusive social bubble. I then decided to go elsewhere.”

When he wrote about the situation on Facebook one of his friends decided to put the pub’s rules to the test. He entered an hour after the gay men did, accompanied by a woman, “and was invited into the premises without question,” they said.

Since the management only appeared to be asking male couples for proof of living arrangements, they suggest Wetherspoon’s was taking “a discriminatory and homophobic approach in selecting customers that they would like to frequent their establishment”.

“It is also an encroachment on my privacy to require inspection of my living arrangements,” they added. “This sort of requirement should only be available to a police officer.”

They have since made a complaint to Devon and Cornwall Police.

In a statement given to DevonLive, a Wetherspoons spokesman said: “Wetherspoon is aware of the issues raised by the customers and we will contact them directly to fully understand their concerns.

“It is important to note that Wetherspoon does not operate any entry policies which are discriminatory.”

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Devon, Homophobia, wetherspoons

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