Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist


by Guest    
2:03 pm - February 26th 2011

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contribution by Kaite Welsh

In the wake of a case that seemed to sound the death knell for homophobia, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found a new target. Despite no formal complaints, the Commission is investigating potential discrimination – from gay-only venues.

But is that really a big deal? Now that gay people are enjoying an unprecedented amount of tolerance, why stay in the ghetto even if it is fabulous?

The truth is that the LGBT community needs a space of its own as much as ever, and steps to ‘integrate’ queer and mainstream society are a step backwards for gay rights.

Despite the considerable advances in both legislation and public acceptance, many gay people still do not feel comfortable expressing their sexuality in a mixed venue. An attempt to prohibit the only places where they can be assured of a warm welcome will have a deletorious effect on the LGBT community, particularly those who are closeted.

The people who oppose gay-only venues don’t understand the need for a safe space, and for that I envy them. They don’t take a risk every time they kiss their partner in public, or book a room in a bed and breakfast.

They’ve never wondered if this is the day their luck will run out and some bigot having a bad day will decide to make them their next target. I don’t want to be forced into separate rooms or try to get my groove on in twin beds for the crime of holidaying whilst gay.

It isn’t about some petty act of revenge against a mainstream that ignored or criminalised us.

It’s also unenforceable. Gay clubs frequently turn away clientele they think are straight, but who makes those decisions? Community spaces need to be there for the whole community, from femme dykes to ‘straight-acting’ men.

You can’t have a sign outside saying ‘you must be this gay to ride’. If we’re going to preserve queer-only venues, we need to ask ourselves what it is we want them to do.

We claim to be a safe space, but for whom? Not the transwomen, who get turned away from women-only spaces that only allow for narrow definition of what it is to be a woman.

Not our bisexual sisters, who face the attitude endemic among many lesbians that implies even the merest dalliance with a penis can cancel out a lifetime of girl on girl action. If we want to protect LGBT-only venues, we have to make sure that that protection extends to everyone.

Those of us who are out fight on the frontlines daily, furthering the integration the EHRC wants just by being open about who we are.

Of course the end goal should be to eliminate it entirely, but sometimes you want to stop fighting and dance.


www.kaitewelsh.com

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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

I’m rather taken aback by the fact that you think integration is a bad thing, and would like to point out that you finding someone’s presence uncomfortable is no reason to allow people to dicriminate against them. Would you support the actions of a hotel that banned gays because homosexuality made them feel uncomfortable?

There is a case for allowing gay bars to discriminate on the basis of safety. But don’t act like you’ve got the right to demand that everyone you don’t like should be barred from your local.

Completely agree. I used to go to gay clubs all the time, because they did a cheap drink offer. I always found the majority of people much more friendly than at a regular club, and it was a lot more flamboyant. As a drama student, I loved it!

Im clearly not supple enough to perform the mental gymnastics required here. Why is this not blatant hypocrisy?

I agree with Chaise.

You can’t have it both ways. Gay venues should be entitled to turn people away for the same reasons any venue might turn away punters, e.g. dress code, that they are drunk, or being rowdy etc.

What you are proposing is just as discriminatory in its own way as the couple who turned the gay couple away from their B&B.

I’m a bit confused by this article – gay bars aren’t “gay-only” venues! They are spaces that are marked out as belonging to the LGBT (or, cynically, lGbt) community. I wholly agree that such spaces should exist – but that’s not the same as excluding non-LGB people, and most gay bars don’t! Any more than an “indie” club excludes non-indie people!

But the article seems to acknowledge this halfway through, and says that some venues need to exclude less because they aren’t welcoming to transwomen, bisexuals and “straight-acting” gays and lesbians.

In any case, isn’t the EHRC investigating gay-only hotels, rather than bars/clubs?

6. Dick the Prick

@1 – quite agree. Any form of discrimination is wrong but the author seems to feel it’s alright if it’s their discrimination! I was opposed to the B&B ruling but understood it, accepted it and could see the rationale behind it. The author seems to think that being gay is more important than religious beliefs or any other considerations. That ship has sailed. Gay only venues should be prosecuted – hell, the MCC even allows women now! Unbelievable hypocritical myopia.

I’m probably mssing something, but defending gay-only spaces smacks a bit of having one’s cake and eating it. Maybe like saying nothing all these years about blatant discrimination against male drivers in the car insurance industry.

If it was found that drivers who hailed from Afghanistan made for the worst drivers on British roads, you can imagine the outrage there would be if that was reflected in insurance premiums.

In fact, the whole culture of bouncers and door personnel screening prospective patrons smacks of discrimination. As that is exactly what they are doing – discriminating.
Does your face fit? Are you wearing the right clothes? Are you the kind of person they want in their club?

In Qatar, they even discriminate about who they allow into the shopping malls.
They prefer not to let the south Asian labourers (who built the things in the first place) inside.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VluY5SWfjSI

“saying nothing all these years about blatant discrimination against male drivers in the car insurance industry.”

There is actually a case coming before the European courts about this.

Agree with Chaise and Galen.

@7 – Don’t confuse the act of discrimination with racists or homophobes. The inability to discriminate between members of an “other” group is the hallmark of the racist. Discrimination in and of itself is an admirable trait – forget how to do it and you may not survive in this world long.

Nonsense. Do you really think that the kind of people who would attend a formally gay only venue would be the kind of people who would disapprove of a gay couple sharing a kiss or a cuddle, let alone commit violence against them?

This is really a bit of a non-issue since even if the ECHR does rule against it then it won’t mean gay venues get swamped with heterosexuals, it will merely mean that they will be unable to discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality. And surely, if you want an end to discrimination, then you should support such a thing. Or are you only against discrimination when it affects you directly?

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 damon

“Maybe like saying nothing all these years about blatant discrimination against male drivers in the car insurance industry.”

It’s ridiculous that this is still legal. Insurance premiums should be based on the vehicle you drive, your experience (i.e. years since you passed your test, plus any extras like advanced qualifications) and personal history (no-claims bonus, crash records).

12. mediocrity511

I think this would be wrong. I believe that gay bars and clubs should be able to exist, but that straight people should be allowed to attend if they so wish. To give an example a very good friend of mine came out two weeks ago, he’s not in the gay scene, in fact he doesn’t know many other gay people at all. Fairly soon we are going on a night out to a gay club with him because he wants to see what it’s like. We’re going with him partly to keep him company, but partly to show that we support him and that his sexuality doesn’t change anything.

What I would say was ok though would be for support groups and similar things to be allowed to have a gay and bisexual only policy. I think that’s different because those spaces are about alot more than a space to socialise, it’s about dealing with some difficult issues. It’s kind of like I think that women only domestic violence shelters are perfectly acceptable, but that women only coffee shops would be wrong.

Yes, cake and eating it.

If this form of discrimination then why can’t a pub have a hetero only policy?

Come on people, are we really that bothered that some in the gay community still want a few bars/clubs to themselves? Are straight people really being discriminated against if a few clubs an a few city centres are openly excluding them from going in? Seriously? Can we not see the difference (other than those ‘confused’ for idealistic reasons) between a nightclub for gays and Bed and Breakfast deliberately excluding gays? Are we REALLY so fucking stupid as to think that the motivation between the two are the same?

I bet those who complain are the same fuckers that demand a ‘MOWO’ award and that white coppers should be allowed their own exclusive association, i.e. the professional moaners.

So lets see if I’ve got this right, a gay couple suffers actual discrimination at the hands of a pair of Christian Bigots and wins their case, and the EHRC’s response is to go snuffling about for potential instances of discrimination on the part of gay club/hotel owners.
Wow.
Tell you what, once we have full marriage equality in this country THEN we can start worrying about whether or not straight people are being “discriminated” against by gay-only venues. Till then I suggest everyone take a peek into the total perspective vortex.

Tim @ 13

Why I am not suprised, eh?

This is one you would go to the gallows for? The right for straight men to enter gay bars. You can see something wrong with allowing gay people places to hang out within their own community? You don’t think the hassle and abuse people suffer is not enough to let one go? You really think this is a big issue?

17. Dan Stephens

I’m sorry, but this argument is ludicrous. Gays need there own space where non gays are not allowed, in case some bigot decides to have a go? LBGTs have been discriminated against, so just in case it happens somewhere unexpected, they are allowed to discriminate first?
I know, lets all stay indoors so we never have to come in contract with someone we may find offensive. And when we do venture out, lets all stick to our own ‘kind’ – lets have black and white only clubs to prevent racism, and lets further sub divided into male and female, gay and straight, old and young, by religion, by political belief, by hair colour, and on and on and on.
And when we all find were looking in a mirror, then we will be safe and happy.

Ok so maybe I am over playing the point, but the fact remains dividing people, even if you think you’re doing it for a good reason, only can only enforces prejudice.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a club tailoring its business to a segment of the public (unless there is something intrinsically offensive in its aim – I for instance would be at the head of the protest against a club marketing to anorexics) but excluding people because they do not meet the demographic is unquestionably wrong, and I can not see how anyone can support it.

Of course it should no business of the EHRC’s who is allowed where or applies restrictions on what, be it gay-only venues or married-only hotels.
But either you believe in equality under the law or you dont and the author of this article clearly doesnt, nor those who agree with her, laughable really.

This is bullshit, the law is the law.

If you support the law prosecuting people for refusing to give a double room to a gay couple.

Then you have to support the law prosecuting people from excluding people from places for being hetero.

Both cases are absolutely ridiculous uses of a sledgehammer to crack a nut that really should not require police arrest, prosecution, criminal records, courts etc.

But if you’re prepared to ruin people’s lives and business for the one then you have to accept it for the other. Otherwise you’re just a fucking hypocrite and bigot.

Dan @ 17

It is called life,mate. Get over it.

Last Sunday it was an old firm match in Scotland. All over Central Scotland pubs in many of the towns and villagers sub divided into broadly three groups, Rangers, Celtic and ‘not too bothered’. For my own part I was in a pub with a single group of supporters, with a few exceptions and down the road there were a couple of pubs that were filled with ‘rival’ supporters. No signs on doors or anything like that, most of us know where to go during the football. After the game, most of us can carry on as functioning human beings, but it is no big deal. Same in Edinburgh. Sure there are gay bars, but what is the big deal?

Now, if they are selling tickets for an event, say, a Lady Gaga concert, or what you teenagers are into now, and a couple of straight guys are turned away at the door, then they might have a case, but a stag do turning up outside a club and being pointed to the nearest lap dancing howf? Come on, think about it for two seconds.

Stephen @ 17

If you support the law prosecuting people for refusing to give a double room to a gay couple.

Then you have to support the law prosecuting people from excluding people from places for being hetero.

Why?

“I bet those who complain are the same fuckers that demand a ‘MOWO’ award and that white coppers should be allowed their own exclusive association, i.e. the professional moaners”

Actually, that all sounds very fair to me, mate.

Either discrimination is wrong for all, or it isn’t wrong at all.

Either all ethnic groups can have their own freedom of assembly and organisation or none can.

And if the former is wrong and then the later must be true otherwise the two combined equal double standards which in turn equals multi-tiered societies where some have more rights then others.

Isn’t that what we are trying to avoid?

Equality means exactly that.

I hope that the EHRC is going to include members-only clubs in it’s search for discrimination.

24. the a&e charge nurse

[21] If you support the law prosecuting people for refusing to give a double room to a gay couple – then you have to support the law prosecuting people from excluding people from places for being hetero.

Why?

Because in both instances discrimination is based on (perceived) characteristics of the group (straights visiting a gay club, or gays booking into a hotel run by christian owners) – we either accept this principle in law, or we don’t?
Having said that I very much agree with other posters who regard this approach to either booking hotels or going to certain clubs as using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

So, because hate crime exists we should have gay-only venues? What about Jew-only venues? Muslim-only venues? Women-only venues? Teenage male-only venues? Comfortable integration isn’t integration.

@ 20 Jim

Nah, sorry bud.. that just won’t wash. Your analogy is off (and before you get too precious about the relevance of Scottish sectarianism to the general debate, I know of what you speak, as I’m a Celtic fan, a protestant and from Edinburgh for my sins).

I doubt too many people are going to go into a bar full of Celtic supporters wearing a Rangers strip on match day, or vice versa. Much the same could be said of any city with rival teams, both here and abraod. The apposite analogy in this case would be the pub refusing entry to prospective patrons permanently because they suspected they were bluenoses, or members of an Orange Order.

It’s not about “getting over it”, as you so blithely put it. People did that for too long in Scotland over the sectarian divide, and this kind of discrimination is just as objectionable.

@25 To be honest I wouldn’t have any problems with those sorts of venues.
Of course there is a world of difference between ‘Women only’ and ‘no blacks’, the former is aimed at a specific group at the exclusion of all others while the latter is open to all with the exclusion of said specific group. The latter is obvious exclusionary discrimination against a specific group, the former – not so much, specific groups have specific needs and interests.

For example, a gynaecologist could advertise their work as being for women only, are they a discriminating bigot?

I agree that gay-only venues should be allowed to exist and the government should not interfere with freedom of association. However, the same should also apply to straight-only venues.

@ Cylux at 27.

“To be honest I wouldn’t have any problems with those sorts of venues.
Of course there is a world of difference between ‘Women only’ and ‘no blacks’, the former is aimed at a specific group at the exclusion of all others while the latter is open to all with the exclusion of said specific group. The latter is obvious exclusionary discrimination against a specific group, the former – not so much, specific groups have specific needs and interests.”

- This strikes me as legalistic hair splitting. If the sign on the pub says “white-Britons only” that’s just as bad in my view as “no blacks”.

On topic, I think the problems (heteros going to gay venues and being intimidating/creepy/etc) can be dealt with without gay only venues. As others have said, if someone (regardless of their sexuality) is creating an unpleasant atmosphere, door staff can eject them.

Galen10 @ 27

So we both know the score regarding Rangers/Celtic pubs, fair enough. I don’t know much about the pubs in Edinburgh, but I suppose you know the pubs to give a wide berth to and what pubs to head for. So, having said that, does that mean that Rangers and Celtic fans suffer from some major oppression, or do they ‘just get on with it’. If a Rangers fan was to stumble towards an ‘Irish theme pub’ I am sure the bouncer on the door would shoo him down the road to the nearest ‘Rangers’ pub, or Hearts or Hibs or whatever, not because he is showing discrimination, just that he is showing more than a little bit of common sense. Nobody is hurt and nobody gets knifed or suffers from the evils of discrimination, all that is happening is that ‘the powers that be’ sort it out among themselves. Far different would be if a pub has a sign ‘No Dogs~No Irish~No blacks’, then you have a case.

Same at night. Let us imagine that a couple of lads turn up outside a gay bar and the bouncer says ‘sorry guys, this is really not your scene, but two hundred yards down the road, that place is ‘hoching wi burds’ where is the discrimination? All that has happened is that the bouncer has made a value call on a door to avert what he sees as an uncomfortable situation for either his clientele, then where is the harm? Sorry mate, I think you are getting too Politically Correct for your own good.

31. Dick the Prick

Is heterophobia ever gonna be a hate crime? Identity politics is odd but when homosexual practices were decriminalised few would have predicted the situation in which the B&B owners found themselves. Live and let let live is a lovely philosophy. Sad that when people obtain tolerance for their own position they are tempted to be – and become – intolerant of those who disagree with them.

If gays want their own exclusive places of business then I suggest they get on a plane.

Who is deciding what is gay enough here? Do you have to be out and camp?
Pass the gaydar test? How do you spot a gay person? Should they have something of the Gok Wan about them?

I get the idea that some of these gay venues might just like a certain kind of gay customer. People who fit a certain ideal. If I’ve had one or two gay experiences in my life, does that allow me to pass the ‘gay test’ on the door? Should you expect to be questioned on your sexual history?

In my opinion, the ‘gays only’ thing is a gay stereotype prejudice.
If you don’t appear gay then you’re not gay (enough).

Perhaps these people getting married are the template for what is meant by ”gay”.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41148000/jpg/_41148630_gay_weddings_pa_416.jpg

A&E CN @ 24

Because in both instances discrimination is based on (perceived) characteristics of the group

But is it though? Surely if a hotel accepts a booking and then declines it after they find out the couple are gay then the withdrawal of the contract is actionable. If the contract was found to be withdrawn because of the sexual orientation of that couple, then that can be discrimination because you dislike the sexual practices of that couple.

If you own/run a ‘gay nightclub’ then that is a completely different thing entirely. If you run a policy on a door to keep your club largely ‘gay’ then no-one is ‘actually’ being discriminated against, not really. Not in any meaningful way, no-one is implying that they hate ‘straight lifestyles’ by wanting to keep a ‘gay club’ to a largely client base. We both know why the hotel people did what they did and we know (if we are being honest) what drives the apparent policy in the second case. Does anyone among the sensible community think they are driven by the same thing?

Come on sensible people, take the blinkers of and ask yourselves, what is the bee in the bonnet of these people? Look at some of the above comments and ask yourself, would these comments be driven by a desire for ‘integration’ or is it just a pathetic excuse to wind up the gay community?

@31 Dick the Prick

“….Live and let let live is a lovely philosophy. ”

Yes it is, but as has been pointed out before here and exhaustively in other places, in the example of the bigots who owned the B&B there IS a difference in allowing them to have, and even advertise, their bigotry and in NOT allowing them to affix the equivalent of a “no darkies” sign at the door of a business establishment run for profit.

Nobody is forcing some private citizen to invite random people they have a bigoted prejudice against into their home; they ARE saying you can’t discriminate against them if you are using it as a business.

@ 30 Jim

“Sorry mate, I think you are getting too Politically Correct for your own good.”

Fair enough – I doubt you will be convinced otherwise. In general however I reckon that if a person is more concerned about the dangers of being politically correct than about discrimination, they are in effect enabling the discrimination.

In your example, and indeed in much of the discussion above, most people are quite prepared to countenance a reasonable door policy. Admittedly that may be a difficult call, and there could be grey areas where people feel they are being denied entry due to discrimination, but that’s not the same as being denied entry altogether due to sexual orinetation, or colour, or possession of a blue nose!

36. Dick the Prick

@33 – I don’t think so – it’s more than that – where does it end or begin? How do we rank prejudice or discrimination. If religious types can’t discriminate against gay folks then why should gay people be allowed to use another arbitrary set of criteria to discriminate? The argument isn’t about the label, be it gay, black, Irish, Jew etc it’s that as a place of business they must adhere to equality legislation. No group, as can be seen from the B&B case, can be deemed above the law. Common sense, really.

As you mention, chances are that a straight couple won’t get turned away from a hotel because of their sexuality but ‘exclusivity’ has been ruled to be illegal where money changes hands. As mentioned, I don’t agree with it and a helluva lot of equality legislation but to start specifying groups, agencies or communities as out of the loop is akin to just choosing different inequalities to replace socially dogmatic ones – a bit arse over tit, frankly.

37. Dick the Prick

@34 – Galen 10 – quite agree.

38. the a&e charge nurse

[33] two of my closest friends happen to be gay – and many a time we have ended up in a gay club.

Does it make any sense to bar somebody from such clubs just because they happen to be straight?

There are some individuals who are presently in straight relationships but in time will acknowledge their true sexual preferences (gay) – I’m not sure if latent, or repressed homosexuality would allow entry to the kind of ‘gay only’ environment touted in the OP.

I doubt if much trouble arises in gay clubs from straights who have gone their for the express purpose of giving vent to homophobia – in fact isn’t it far more likely that straights who go to gay clubs do so because their friend(s) happen to be gay, and like their gay friends they just want to have a good night out?

I agree with you to the extent that we should not be making a big deal about it, but the principle itself (excluding straights from gay clubs) is discriminatory, however dilute this type of discrimination might appear.

39. Dick the Prick

Just to precis (and I could be wrong) but the gay couple who turned up at the B&B were told to ‘fuck off, we don’t serve gayers’ and all you have to do is change the noun and the cluster-fuck of ambulance chasing lawyers, ambitious parliamentarians and assorted special interest groups have carte blanche to drivel innane shite.

A&E CN @ 38

And there is the crux of the matter. You have been in gay bars with a couple of mates, so it is safe to say that in those cases you either can pass for a gay man or your sexual preference was not an issue. Either way, no-one checked your ID with the ‘gay database’ (I assume you are straight, BTW). Unless the Gay media mafia are suppressing a slew of ‘hetrophobic beatings’ up and down the Country, then this so called discrimination is non existent and the current policy works well. Either:

1) You look gay.
2) You look straight with gay mates.
3) The bouncer didn’t see an issue, with you and your mates.

Perhaps if he thought you were going in there for the ‘wrong’ reason either for a bit of homophobic spleen venting, or just thinking it was a straight club, he would have said something, if so, would you blame him? If three straight guys were ‘on the pull and paid a fiver? to get in, would that have been better or worse? If he put you straight(?) on the club, then that is hardly discrimination, is it?

41. Dick the Prick

The ever forensic & erudite Lady drifting upon the high seas on a few planks of plywood has summarised it thus:

I’m afraid that the Bulls don’t really want legal advice. They want a martyrdom. They are very likely to get their wish.

James Dingemans QC, representing the Bulls, has played his hand as well as possible. I doubt he expected to win this round; the regulation was formulated for exactly this situation so the ruling at county court level was a foregone conclusion.

Civil partnership is marriage for this purpose, so Hall and Preddy could not be treated less favourably than any married couple who had booked the room.

It’s by no means clear that the Bulls were able to lawfully discriminate against single people in defiance of existing discrimination law; it’s just that nobody had ever called them out on it.

Dingemans gave a legal opinion to the Christian Institute before the regulation was implemented that it set the issue of religious freedom against other rights. He guessed the challenge might come to a Christian care home refusing a double room to a same-sex couple, so he had been expecting this test case to come along for several years.

He has technically won this round (although the client has lost) because it has gone straight to leave to appeal, meaning he has won the argument that there is a real clash of HR principles.

Only lawyers win in the long-run.

If you see this as an economic matter and don’t necessarily think that human rights were ever meant to be trivialized by petty squabbles over hotel rooms instead of important matters like whether the state can lock you up or take away your children in secret, then you will be content with a segmented market and let the customers decide whether a hotel will go out of business or not.

Hall and Preddy were always entitled to win this one on a consumer basis; they insist they booked in good faith and then the landlord refused to honour that, making no effort to overcome the trouble they had been put to.

If you are a secularist you will see this as a straightforward clash of HR principles.

If you are Cranmer you will see this as evidence of militant secularism and an anti-Christian bias. I no longer dismiss that view, although he sometimes lays it on a bit thick.

42. the a&e charge nurse

[40] “your sexual preference was not an issue” – yes, and that’s how I think it should be for all of us on a night out.

The person on the door may have a reason not to let you in but discrimination purely on the basis of sexual preference is an illiberal step backward in my opinion.

As you rightly point out it is debatable if such prejudices exist when trying to get into gay clubs/bars although the OP claims this happens frequently.

Still, it begs the question why is an argument being made for ‘gay only’ spaces – if this is what people genuinely want, then why not go to the next level of introducing clear signage with phrases along the lines of “straights not welcome”?

Most of these Gay-Only venues, specifically saunas and some hotels/b&b’s, are gay-only for the reason that gay sex is expected to occur on the premises, or nudity and various other things of a same-sex adult nature that straight men and women are not the least bit interested in engaging in. Fight to join in with that if you must, though perhaps you might accept “gay sex will probably be happening here” rather than “gay only” to appear on the front of these venues.

Now, the issue of nightclubs is different, because as far as I am aware there are no gay-only nightclubs in the UK today that are not also members-only clubs, sort out the high flying upper-class members-only clubs in London first, then we’ll talk.

There are gay nightclubs, or gay friendly nightclubs – but turning away someone just because they are hetro, not likely. Turning away someone because they’re hetro/homo and look like trouble, much more likely. Pointing out to a group of hetro-looking lads that the premises they are about to enter is a gay venue, with all of what they should expect within is also not discrimination. Unless “buyer beware” has now taken a strangely bigoted path…

Years ago, I used to go to a gay club regularly with a small group of friends (men and women, all straight). It was cheap, friendly and had a couple of pinball machines. We all felt very welcome. This seems like a step backwards.

Unbelievable.

I can’t find a single contributor on this thread who is prepared to uphold the principle of property rights- that the owner of a property is entitled to decide its usage.

If a club or pub owner wants to serve only people who he decides are gay, that is his/her right. Anyone refused entry on account of their sexual preference has the option to take their custom elsewhere.

Of course the same applies to bed and breakfast owners.

46. Dick the Prick

@45 – we’re way beyond property rights. It’s when owners fuck up and pick a bullshit reason. Wiggle room exists and the natural destination is an attack on all faiths which opperate agencies. Money for old rope.

I think we would need a definition of what is and is not gay to work this out.
This desire for gay-only spaces is to do with more than just a person’s preferred sexual practices. It’s about protecting some niche scene. And how a social culture has grown up around the preference to same sex partners. If people want to have private clubs to meet in, I don’t see a problem with it, but places open to the general public should not discriminate. And if you think they should be allowed to, I think you (one) should really make the case for it. And explain how you would actually turn people away. If people want to pigeonhole themselves or others, I’ll accept it if the case for it is explained clearly.

The Irish Travellers from ‘My big fat Gipsy Wedding’ go out socialising in Manchester’s gay village.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1357457/My-Big-Fat-Gypsy-Wedding-Paddy-Doherty-attacked-cousin-drinking-session.html

Is it ”rough oiks” like Paddy Doherty and his family that people who favour segregation would like kept out of ‘their’ clubs and bars?

It’s gay and straight people mixing in places like that which must have done most to make British and western attitudes to homosexuality change so fast and so much in the last twenty years.
If everyone in Manchester has been down the Village at some time, then people are less inclined to have a problem with a person’s sexuality.
I know it worked for me that way.

What is being proposed is a form of separatism. Whether it’s justified, I’m not sure about. Same as I’m a bit unsure when seeing only black Londoners going to the nightclub next to Caesars in Streatham. The Forum it was called. And I’ve watched the people going in on a friday night, and all the women opening their handbags for the bouncers to look inside. As a white guy, I got the idea that it wasn’t really a place for me. Fair enough, but I have wondered why there’s a racial social preference. I think it’s somewhat of an artificial construction these days.

48. Dick the Prick

@ 47 – damon. Gays can go fuck ‘emselves when religion is involved. I havr no opinion on this argument but voyeuristic.

I can’t find a single contributor on this thread who is prepared to uphold the principle of property rights- that the owner of a property is entitled to decide its usage.

Because this isn’t a libertarian insane asylum, where the my ‘right’ to erect a massive flashing swastika on my roof automatically trumps my Jewish neighbours rights not to have their lives made intolerable.

“my ‘right’ to erect a massive flashing swastika on my roof automatically trumps my Jewish neighbours rights not to have their lives made intolerable”

What a wonderful fantasy world you live in.

@47

It’s gay and straight people mixing in places like that which must have done most to make British and western attitudes to homosexuality change so fast and so much in the last twenty years.
If everyone in Manchester has been down the Village at some time, then people are less inclined to have a problem with a person’s sexuality.
I know it worked for me that way.

Nothing new in regard to entrance policy on the doors of gay bars is actually being proposed by the OP, nothing has recently changed in that regard either. I’ll make that point again; NOTHING HAS CHANGED from when you were able to waltz into gay clubs and mix with gay people.

What is happening is that the EHRC is attempting to find discrimination on the part of gay clubs/hotels, whom no one has yet seen fit to complain about, in response to an actual instance of discrimination suffered by a gay couple at a b&b.

What I think is happening in regard to this discussion is the inability to distinguish between a gay venue and a gay-only venue.

I can’t find a single contributor on this thread who is prepared to uphold the principle of property rights- that the owner of a property is entitled to decide its usage…….

Because this isn’t a libertarian insane asylum

OK. So who should decide whether or not heterosexuals (or gays) should be entitled to access to a club (or a B&B).

1) The owner

2) The government.

If you argue for the latter, what is the point of anybody owning anything? What is the point of ownership if you are not able to control usage of the asset?

Of course you can argue that there should be no such thing as property rights. That is, at least, an honest platform.

Of course you can argue that there should be no such thing as property rights.

Of course there are such things. It’s just that property rights have to compete with other things such as legal responsibilities & duties of care, human rights, and civil liberties. Where there are opposing rights – as often happens – society has find its way to the right balance, through the democratic process.

Except in libertarian-land where property rights must steam-roller over all other considerations, otherwise what is the point of anybody owning anything? Eh?

kaite welsh,

I love your tweet about this post:

my post over at @libcon about why gay-only venues should exist is creating a fair bit of controversy

You could say that!

We argue against homophobia and for equality, and what do we get, strange new barriers being erected by your good self. Damon @ 47 had this to say.

It’s gay and straight people mixing in places like that which must have done most to make British and western attitudes to homosexuality change so fast and so much in the last twenty years.
If everyone in Manchester has been down the Village at some time, then people are less inclined to have a problem with a person’s sexuality.
I know it worked for me that way.

Which is probably true.

My daughter feels much the same as Sarah AB does @ 44.

What a can of worms you have opened!

Lots of the comments seem to be complaining about how the OP supports gay veneus having “gay-only” policies. But the OP actually outlines the drawbacks of having even such policies covertly/implicitly – it blocks LGBT community spaces to people who don’t fit certain stereotypes.

So, if the OP doesn’t agree with those policies, what is the problem? The EHRC isn’t getting rid of gay clubs, and gay clubs don’t have (or shouldn’t have) “gay-only” policies anyway!

Was the OP a victim of overzealous Liberal Conspiracy editing perhaps?

AG 1985,

I suspect most people never read beyond this paragraph:

The truth is that the LGBT community needs a space of its own as much as ever, and steps to ‘integrate’ queer and mainstream society are a step backwards for gay rights.

Well, there are overwhelming reasons to think that that is wrong. That has been the substance of the comments on this thread.

If you understood the last two sentences wot she wrote, well, your are a better man than I am:

Those of us who are out fight on the frontlines daily, furthering the integration the EHRC wants just by being open about who we are.

Of course the end goal should be to eliminate it entirely, but sometimes you want to stop fighting and dance.

Be open about what exactly?

Eliminate what entirely?

If the first paragraph about ‘the truth’ is a set up, then the rest of the piece has to argue rather better against it. It doesn’t.

Frankly, I am confused.

@56: Yes, I am also confused. The comments are understandable given that opening paragraph – but the OP seems to contradict that opening paragraph and make exactly the opposite point. Or something.

@ Larry

Where there are opposing rights – as often happens – society has find its way to the right balance, through the democratic process.

That’s one possibility.

Alternatively we could enshrine property rights in law, have a bill of rights that protects individuals and define the way these two interact with government in a written constitution.

It is not reasonable that the right property is subject to the whim of the democratic process.

Democracy is also capable of tyranny.

@58 pagar

“It is not reasonable that the right (to?) property is subject to the whim of the democratic process.”

You are being entirely disingenuous. I honestly can’t decide whether you really are such an extreme libertarian that you believe your position is justifiable, or whether you are just trolling for the sake of it.

It IS reasonable that certain rights, in particular circumstances, can be curtailed. In the example under discussion, the bigots in the B&B are not being deprived of their property rights, they are being deprived of the ability to discriminate in the provision of a service.

The existence of a written constitution and/or Bill of Rights (which I support) would not in and of itself bring about your whacky desired end, because “most” reasonable people can see through your very peculiar absolutist stance that property rights somehow “trump” any other possible consideration.

“This is one you would go to the gallows for? The right for straight men to enter gay bars. You can see something wrong with allowing gay people places to hang out within their own community?”

To the gallows? Nah, much too much of a coward for that.

Although not too much so to point out the essential hypocrisy of your position.

I and mine must be allowed by law to discriminate against those outside our group. But others and their must not be allowed to discriminate against me and my group.

Now if you were to say that yes, there should be the right of private property owners to discriminate as they wish about who can enter their property, then (as at 45) I’m right with you. Someone who wishes to run a nightclub as a hetero only place has that right, does someone who wishes to run one as a non-hetero place, or mixed in any fashion they desire.

Indeed, I would go further. If some racist nutter wants to drink only with the knuckle draggers of the BNP then he can indeed have a colour bar. That the existence of such would mean that he’d only get the BNP in there is his lookout.

And yes, I have been thrown out of places for the crime of not fitting the desired profile of the clientele. No, I didn’t like it either.

It IS reasonable that certain rights, in particular circumstances, can be curtailed. In the example under discussion, the bigots in the B&B are not being deprived of their property rights, they are being deprived of the ability to discriminate in the provision of a service.

Don’t agree.

The democratically elected government is telling the individual property owner how they may use it- for example that they must accept gays but cannot allow smokers.

Both instructions are a basic infringement of property rights. The “provision of a service” is a private contract between the service provider and his client and has nothing to do with anyone else.

By the way, I don’t believe compulsory purchase orders are reasonable, either.

Pagar @ 61

The democratically elected government is telling the individual property owner how they may use it- for example that they must accept gays but cannot allow smokers.

Again you are starting off with the flawed idea that you can waft in and out of society, like a ghost.

Nobody is telling anyone how to use that property. When they open that property up for purposes of a business, they then, like it or not, become part of that society. They are looking for people to visit that shop/B&B etc therefore it is reasonable to expect that owner to comply with the rules of that society. Surely to Christ that is not a difficult concept?

If you want to buy a property, brick up the doors and windows and live like a hermit, then do so, but if you want the general public to use your business in a manner that satifies the law, then you become, however reluctantly part of that society and subject to its laws.

Seriously, being part of a society is not as scary as it sounds. Really millions of us do it everyday and we are not all dead.

We do have a Bill of Rights. One of the provisions of that act forbids a standing army during a time of peace. Clearly we do have standing armies during peace because Parliament gets around it by annually renewing the army’s right to exist. Thus demonstrating any rights we do have are given to us by Parliament. What Parliament gives, Parliament can also take away. That is why Bentham described the notion of ‘ natural rights ‘ as ‘ nonsense on stilts.’ If Parliament says you can’t discriminate and the highest court in the land says you can. Parliament if it so wished could abolish the court. The court can’t abolish Parliament. The will of Parliament trumps any individuals property rights. You might not like that state of affairs but that is the reality in our constitutional monarchy settlement.

Obviously, business owners may have a preference to who their customers might be.
If you opened up a cafe bar, with some dream of it becoming a cool place for bohemian night owls to frequent, but it turned into the hangout of boorish local thugs, it would be understandable that you would really hate that. And take steps to change your customer base.

And it seems there are ways that you can do that legally, and things you cant do also.
http://www.pureemploymentlaw.co.uk/2011/02/01/targeting-your-market-or-targeting-victims/

In that link, they mention the case of The Coleherne pub in West London, which was well known for its gay clientele. New owners came in and changed its name and turned it into a gastro pub. But the long established regulars kept coming, even though the landlord (crassly) put up a sign outside saying ”This is not a gay pub”. They even encouraged staff to sit gay customers away from the windows.
Obviously, it went to court.

You have to be careful when trying to mold your prefered clientele. And the industry as a whole has for too long IMO, practiced discriminatory door practices.

I never go into any place with door staff, as I feel like I’m not the kind of customer that they would be looking for.

”Beware discrimination in upholding your brand.”
http://www.kimbells.com/hospitality/news.asp?p=847&s=14&ss=21

Both instructions are a basic infringement of property rights.

Boo-hoo-hoo.

I think we’ve established that not everyone here shares your weird fundamentalist viewpoint that property rights trump everything else.

Barring people from a restaurant for being the wrong colour, sex, or sexuality is a basic infringement of human rights. Which are more important, see?

Yes democracy is capable of tyranny. But it doesn’t follow that every democratic decision is tyrannical, at least not without stripping that word of all meaning.

Incidentally, property-owners are also capable of tyranny, in monopolistic situations, and especially in relation to others who don’t have any property. No property, no rights! That’s the libertarian motto.

@63 ” Parliament if it so wished could abolish the court. The court can’t abolish Parliament.”

Weirdly, the above is the wrong way round. The supremacy of Parliament is simply a construction from the Common Law. So technically there’s nothing to stop the Supreme Court from changing it’s mind, (the highest court cannot be bound by previous decisions), and refusing to recognise parliament.

The practicalities of doing this are obviously nearly insuperable but in theory that’s how the relationship works.

I hope this is just a parody, showing why the arguments of (say) the bed + breakfast owners are flawed. As it is essentially the same argument.

68. james mackinshaw

You will lose any case in the human rights court , someone will bring a test case . James

69. james mackinshaw

Any one on here able to expain to me why mosques are allowed to discriiminate , against women & lbgt individuals , surprised no test case has been brought , i be gratefull for any advice James

I disagree, Falco. A.V. Dicey the constitutional theorist defined Parliamentary Sovereignty.

” The King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons: these three bodies acting together may be aptly described as the “King in Parliament”, and constitute Parliament. The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty mean neither more nor less than this, namely that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament. ”

Lord Reid ruling on parliamentary supremacy.

” It is often said that it would be unconstitutional for the United Kingdom Parliament to do certain things, meaning that the moral, political and other reasons against doing them are so strong that most people would regard it as highly improper if Parliament did these things. But that does not mean that it is beyond the power of Parliament to do such things. If Parliament chose to do any of them, the courts would not hold the Act of Parliament invalid. ”

The courts act in the authority of the Crown and the officials of the court are servants of the Crown. Since in Parliamentary Sovereignty the Crown and Parliament are one the servants of the servants of the Crown can’t overrule the will of the authority that gives them authority.

Parliamentary Sovereignty is a distinctly English law doctrine because Scots law does not recognise the power the power of Parliament to breech the provisions of the Act of Union.

@ 70

Ah, but then Scots law is far superior to common law anyway ;)

I’m disappointed that Kaite hasn’t come below the line to respond to any of these comments, not least because Sunny practically forces me BTL with a cattle prod when I post!

Also, like others, I did find the post a bit convoluted – does it refer to LGBT venues that cater for the LGBT community, or does it refer to venues that explicitly ban straight people (and bi people?)? Is the writer ultimately in favour of gay-only venues or not?

Also there are no wikis to the original EHRC decision!

For those querying the value of a gay-only venue, one of the justifications for it (explained to me by a gay girl I met at Manchester Pride last year), is that straight people often go into gay bars for birthdays, hen nights etc. for novelty value – to peer at men getting off with other men and so on. To that end, I completely understand the desire for gay-only venues – LGBT clubs are places where members of the LGBT community go to live their lives, not to be observed by others like monkeys in a zoo.

I don’t really buy the argument that this is the same as the B&B owners. For that to be the case, you’d have to start from a tabula rasa where it is assumed that all social groups are equal. Clearly they are not, so there is more justification for a gay-only venue than there is for a straight-only B&B.

Having said all of this, my gay friends frequently go to gay bars with straight people of varying degrees of acceptance. It’s always a good experience (I remember walking to a gay clu with a straight friend who repeatedly assured me ‘I’m straight, you know’), and I feel a little bit more of the barrier is chipped away each time. I can’t help wondering if gay-only venues – assuming you mean venues that actively bar straight people – would be quite detrimental to that; quite segragating. That would be a shame.

@ 72 Ellie Mae

I think most reasonable people posting above would accept that there is an element of truth in what you say; I imagine it must piss people off having groups of pissed, gawping stag and hen do’s crashing a place…. I think in the end tho’ the potential problems of that kind of situation are very much outweighed for most of us by the fact that we DO actually see the two things being discussed as very much the same.

As tom says @67, they are essentially the same argument; I can’t really see how any sensible person can maintain otherwise.

“Those of us who are out fight on the frontlines daily”

Really? I must have missed the fight, despite having been out myself for no little time.

I have to say – there are some truly hilarious responses to this article, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The point about having gay-only venues is that gay people are a very small minority in an overwhelmingly heterosexual society. Gay people have largely won legal equality, but we’re still a long way from being accepted as ‘normal’. For example, as a gay man I would never dream of holding hands in the street with my boyfriend.

The argument about ‘why not have hetero-only bars then’ is stupid, because nearly all bars and clubs not only cater for straight people, but are dominated by heterosexual norms. Again, I would never dream of kissing another man in a straight club.

The point is to have spaces where – unlike almost everywhere else in British society – gay people can feel comfortable and safe in being, well, gay.

As has been pointed out by others, in practice most gay bars and clubs have a gay-majority – rather than exclusively gay – door policy. This is a relief in my case because nearly all of my friends are straight men, and I wouldn’t go out anywhere without them. So I think that’s fair enough.

I’d consider myself someone who happens to be gay rather than a gay man – and I’m an integrationist (i.e. I don’t believe in creating a separate gay identity). But as things stand, gay people still need their own spaces where they know they are not going to be ridiculed / patronised / punched in the face for being gay.

And in any case, given we only make up about 3% of the population, god knows how we’d pull if gay bars and clubs were de facto abolished!

You can argue about this all day and all night, sadly once you start telling people they cannot enter a club, Pub, or meeting place because your not gay is the problem we started with.

If we took that route we’d have football clubs saying OK no Blacks no gays no what ever.

Everyone has a price to pay for freedom.

@72 Ellie Mae:

I’m glad it wasn’t just me who had that impression!

As a gay man, I think it is very important to have venues (clubs, bars) that are not just LGBT-friendly but are specifically spaces FOR LGBT people. I take it this is uncontroversial and it is not under attack by the EHRC.

But LGBT ownership of those spaces is threatened if they are dominated by people who are just there to gawp. I guess banning non-LGBT people is one way of making sure that doesn’t happen, which I’m sure is why there are always unconfirmed rumours of gay bars effectively banning straight people by e.g. applying “dress codes” that somehow don’t seem to get applied to gay people.

The problem with this practice is not just that it is illegal. Firstly, as the OP acknowledges, it discriminates against anyone who doesn’t conform to what bouncers expect LGBT people are like. Secondly, it doesn’t help to make LGBT venues seem welcoming and inclusive – and many LGBT people want to be able to bring their straight friends with them and doubtless many even enjoy the atmosphere of the occasional hen party.

I think it’s a judgement call for individual venues. But there are all sorts of things that can be done to ensure gay bars remain firmly LGBT spaces (inasmuch as they already are – underrepresentation of lbt is a different kettle of fish altogether) without barring straight people (explicitly or covertly):

* LGBT allies should spread the message that, although straight people are welcome as guests to gay bars, they should respect that they are spaces for LGBT people. This doesn’t require legal enforcement.

* Venues can, for instance, ban hen parties if they do find themselves overwhelmed by them.

* Venues can operate no-tolerance policies to evict people who fail to act in accordance with the venue’s LGBT ethos – even against something as “minor” as giggling at two men kissing.

* Venues can ensure that they do not market themselves to straight demographics

* Venues can verbally remind people as they enter that it’s a gay bar.

Whoa, wait a minute. There is no way that the B&B thing can be compared to a gay bar only allowing gay people in. The former, staying in a B&B is a mainstream event that millions of people do every now and then. To attempt to ban gay peope from a B&B is an attempt to ban gay people from a mainstrean event.

Attempting to or actually baning people from attending a ‘gay’ club different because attendin ‘gay’ clubs is clearly a minority event, given that only a small minority of people are gay. Most nightclubs are straight and most nightclub patrons are straight. Not one single person loses out if a ‘gay nightclub’ stops straight people from attending, because the vast majority of ‘mainstream’ people have access to ‘mainstream’ nightclubs.

Hmm to be honest I’ve thought about this again, and I’m not sure I can see what the problem is.

We’re all talking as though the entire gay scene is going to ban straight people. If that were the case, there’d be a problem, but I’m assuming gay-only venues are a relatively small part of the whole gay scene (or at least they are in my experience – I actually went to a gay-men-only club once by accident. Luckily everyone was very welcoming). It’s a bit like women-only gyms in my opinion.

As long as there are still lots of LGBT clubs about where straight friends are welcome (and I agree with 77 about certain behaviours being unacceptable), is it really a big deal? I mean, is Tim Worstall et al desperate to throw some shapes to I Luv U Baby without his choices being limited?

As AG says, bars can have rules about not leering or causing trouble. That is no problem. And I accept what Owen says about a minority not being driven out by the tyranny of the majority, and I’m racking my brains as to what could be done to prevent that. But I can’t accept some kind of sign saying no straight people, even if in practice it is unenforceable, because that undermines all discrimination laws. Perhaps I might have to rethink my initial reaction, but I’m unconfortable about it either way now!

Jim, wasn’t it a Christian b+b, and one that advertised who was welcome?

$53 Larry: “It’s just that property rights have to compete with other things such as legal responsibilities & duties of care, human rights, and civil liberties. Where there are opposing rights – as often happens – society has find its way to the right balance, through the democratic process.”

Rights and laws are messy things. Legislation and court judgements send out social messages, guidelines about how people are expected to conduct themselves with respect to others, but they do not eliminate discriminatory thoughts and actions.

Equality laws have teeth when it is practical to demonstrate discrimination. Any company that is big enough to employ a human resources person consequently has practices or cultures that reduce possible discrimination. The same laws apply to smaller companies, but unless discrimination is egregious, enforcement is unlikely.

In the case of B&B owners, the law suggests that when a service is being offered the providers may not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. But the law is only a signal and, owing to the costs of prosecution, years will pass before there is another prosecution. (Oops: a second complaint has been raised recently, but that does not demolish my argument.)

What that case has achieved is to convince a few people that they can’t legally discriminate against guests. Accommodation providers can discriminate illegally if they want to take the risk, and that’s the messy world in which we live.

Given that the EHRC has not received any complaints, has not signed up a barrister and is not going to court next week, I find their alleged investigation to be bizarre. The only mainstream source for this story is the Telegraph, from whom Pinknews and others have borrowed the content.

Perhaps their alleged investigation is a signalling exercise to suggest that EHRC takes all discrimination seriously. If that is the case, it is mistaken and unhelpful. The message that has been sent is that gay pub, hotel and club owners don’t like straight people.

The reality is that LGBT hosts want to maintain a “social balance” at their venues. If it means denying access to girls on a hen party night, it is no different from straight clubs that conduct a male/female ratio count on the door.

@81 No, they were given a booking and when the owner discovered they were gay after they pulled up outside told them that no, they were not welcome and she said that she wished they had told her first so she could have directed them elsewhere.

84. Chaise Guevara

@ 78 Jim

“There is no way that the B&B thing can be compared to a gay bar only allowing gay people in. The former, staying in a B&B is a mainstream event that millions of people do every now and then. To attempt to ban gay peope from a B&B is an attempt to ban gay people from a mainstrean event.”

Of course they can be compared. They’re both about people being denied service because of the bigotry of the owner (or the owner’s capitulation in the face of the bigotry of their clientele).

And yes, “bigotry” is the right word in both cases. I hope I don’t have to clarify that in the case of the B&B. In the case of a gay-only bar, it’s apparently because straight people cannot be trusted to act like decent human beings in the presence of homosexuals. Which is a bit like saying “we don’t let blacks in because we’ve had a couple of black guys start fights in the past”.

Now, the two events ARE worlds apart both in terms of the impact upon the victims and the moral drivers behind the decision to discriminate. It’s very unlikely that the only affordable bar in town will be exclusively gay, or indeed exclusively anything. And presumably gar bars have had problems with straight people causing trouble, whereas that gay couple would be doing no harm whatsoever to the proprieters by renting a room. But we’re talking about a legal issue here, something that has to be quantified and written down. If you want to make a special case that authorises anti-straight bigotry, leaving the moral problems of that aside for a second, how are you going to get that into law without either having obviously prejudiced litigation or leaving the door open for more oppressive forms of bigotry?

I’ve never actually come across a “straight nightclub”. Do you have any examples?

Interesting discussion.

Two points: 1. Does anyone know if there actually are any gay clubs that specifically ban straight people? 2. If no-one has even made a complaint & the ECHR are attempting to find discrimination where none may exist isn’t that a total waste of time & money? Particularly when discrimination exists at all levels against minorities of whatever group tickles your fancy.

FWIW I’ve had many a good night on Canal Street and went there with a girlfriend once upon a time, we got a few funny looks in a lesbian bar but other than that everyone was fine and welcoming. I think it’s more about attitude than anything else. I’ve been to pubs that are known for being BNP hangouts too and felt very threatened (I’m white & straight, by the way). Should clubs be able to stop entire sections of society from entering their premises? No. Should clubs be allowed to have a discretionary door policy? Of course. They are two different things and I think the OP (and a few commentators) are confusing the issue by conflating them both.

I see our libertarian chum ranting about “property rights”, bless. I think he forgets that when someone uses their property to gain profit from a consumer they enter into a bargain with people that says “I will serve you whether or not you are black, gay, disabled, christian, trotskyite, EDL, or even a goddamn coalition MP”. It is that bargain that the B&B owners broke. If they’d accepted the gay couple but then found they were going against house rules (say, by playing loud music at 5am or smoking pot in their room) then fine, turn them away then. But because of sexuality? Silly & primitive.

86. Chaise Guevara

@ 79 Ellie

“As long as there are still lots of LGBT clubs about where straight friends are welcome (and I agree with 77 about certain behaviours being unacceptable), is it really a big deal? I mean, is Tim Worstall et al desperate to throw some shapes to I Luv U Baby without his choices being limited?”

Shouldn’t you defend what you perceive as people’s human rights to go to a certain establishment regardless of whether or not you personally want to go there?

I think discrimination is ALWAYS a big deal. It’s sometimes necessary, but in those cases it should be justified. For example, when I worked at an agency for care workers, a colleague was upset because a home for mental patients rang up requesting that we find a carer for them but specifying that they didn’t want a black person. This turned out to be justified, because the patient who needed care had a condition that involved them turning violently aggressive when they saw someone who was black.

What we shouldn’t do is wave away people’s concerns about discrimination by saying “oh, it’s a non-issue. People in your demographic don’t need those rights”.

87. Chaise Guevara

@ 85 S Pill

“Should clubs be able to stop entire sections of society from entering their premises? No. Should clubs be allowed to have a discretionary door policy? Of course.”

You’ve made me realise that there are probably fewer gay-only places than people think. I’ve never been turned away in Canal Street, but I know people who have, generally when they arrived as a group of men, none of whom “appeared” to be gay. Now, when they were turned away they may well have assumed it was because of a gays-only policy, whereas the truth is more complex – they were turned away because they were a large group of drunk, apparently straight men who the bouncer suspected were there for a laugh.

That doesn’t necessarily justify them being turned away, of course, but it does mean that people could go away thinking that Canal Street bars are a good deal less accomadating than they really are.

@84 Chaise Guevara: “And presumably gar bars have had problems with straight people causing trouble…”

That rarely happens indoors. Unfortunately, most gay pubs are forced to employ a doorperson, but that is like most other town pubs. On the positive side, it means that troublemakers do not get in.

LGBT pub staff and owners are not usually bigots, but I have met a few LGBT people who are racist or sexist. How sad for them. By probability, LGBT pub staff and owners are the offspring of straight couples; thus I have shared many drinks with mum and dad, son, daughter or inbetweeny. Gay pubs and clubs are places where friends of LGBT people are welcome; door policy is about maintaining comfort and confidence for guests.

@85 Mr S. Pill: “Does anyone know if there actually are any gay clubs that specifically ban straight people?”

I started a question that way myself and got all tangled up, so I tossed it away.

There are fetish groups with strict rules. If you want to join the local gay men leather group, you need to be male, gay and wear leather. However these groups are private members clubs.

Gay saunas? It is appropriate to deny access if admission might lead to a breach of the peace.

So the answer is No.

@87 Chaise

I see your point, but I still think that on-balance we have it about right at the moment. Not forcing people to either do or not do things – a good liberal position, really. Sure sometimes people will get turned away for being like in your example a large group of “straight” people (I use the term in quotes because no-one knows anyone elses sexuality without asking them and even then they could lie), but I’d argue that’s part of the risk of having a flexible policy to club entry and one we’ll have to deal with via education of both heteros and homos. I mean removing the stigma from both groups.

91. Chaise Guevara

@ 90

I’m not automatically against the policy that seems to be common in the Village, but I’d struggle to call any system that allows someone’s (perceived) sexuality to be taken into account when deciding whether to admit them “liberal”. Rather than forcing our will on bar owners, we’re allowing bar owners to do the same to prospective clients on the basis of prejudice or something very much like it.

That said, I’m not sure how you could litagate against a policy of turning down people perceived as potential straight trouble-makers, because you could justify it based on the “trouble-maker” part.

92. Chaise Guevara

@ 89 Charlieman

“So the answer is No.”

Think you’re wrong there. This is a story (admittedly from back in 2005) about a former gay-only pub cancelling that policy because it wasn’t doing enough business: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-2312.html/

This is a write-up of the story in the OP, but mentioning that fact that some gay-only B&B owners worry that the EHRC’s actions will force them out of business: http://www.fyne.co.uk/index.php?item=977

Both are from gay publications, so it’s not a case of the Mail or some other such source twisting the facts to feed into the “only straight white middle-class Christian males get discriminated against” myth.

As I said before, I don’t support the idea of gay-only bars but I can at least understand that there may be good reasons for people to want them to exist. However, I cannot think of any reason to run a gay-only B&B other than good old-fashioned bigotry. It seems to me that these guys deserve to go out of business.

A search for “gay-only bar” seems to mainly bring up foreign sites, though. My guess is that these places are either few and far between, don’t advertise their policy online, or both.

Owen Jones:

The point is to have spaces where – unlike almost everywhere else in British society – gay people can feel comfortable and safe in being, well, gay.

I know this might sound a bit thick, but aren’t you talking about a particular type of public gay expression? And particular types of ”gay” venues?
A coffee bar in Soho isn’t particularly a gay venue, but on a sunday morning there will invariably be quite a lot of gay people around not being particularly gay. Just having coffee or brunch like anyone else.

One thing I’ve never had explained to me properly, is how is it that you can even tell if a person is gay, unless they are being publicly intimate with someone of the same sex?
And what is this scene that makes men who are attracted to men, and women who are attracted to women, to want to hang out together as a wider group. In a way that they would prefer that there weren’t too many non-gays around?
It’s not just gay, it’s a particular type of gay scene. Which is fine, but let’s just not use generic terms like ”gay venue”.

I know it’s kind of obvious too, but I sometimes don’t like it when things are left to nods and winks, as if everyone’s just supposed to know already.
If you were to bar people who don’t fit a stereotype, then you are maybe being somewhat discriminatory yourself. Am I wrong to have the idea that people’s sexuality is not actually that fixed? I’ve been chatted up by gay men in the past, and even though I would probably be considered straight, I enjoyed the attention and the flattery of being in such a situation. It’s OK to be a percentage straight and gay isn’t it?
Or does that make you an official bisexual? (Not sure myself).

Being in a new town by one’s self, a ‘gay’ venue might seem more welcoming and freindly (and intriguing) than a ‘straight’ one. I wouldn’t like it if I was told you can go here and can’t go there with something as nuanced as the spectrum of sexuality.

94. Chaise Guevara

OK, here’s one from my own town: http://www.mmu.ac.uk/the-guide/places-of-interest/canal-street.php . This is a page from Manchester Metropolitan University that mentions a gay-only bar and another bar that only allows a “gay/lesbian majority” – I assume that latter means that you have to arrive in a mostly gay group, although it could also be to do with total headcount. In any case, if this page is accurate there are at least two bars in Manchester which officially turn people away for being straight.

@92 Chaise Guevara:

The Pinknews story is strange but does not prove the existence of gay-only pubs. It talks about a few disgruntled blokes who lost their local pub.

The Fyne story is a retread of the Telegraph story about an alleged EHRC investigation. The Telegraph is the only mainstream media that reported this story prior to this thread.

The story was first published in the Telegraph “Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent 9:45AM GMT 20 Feb 2011″. It was followed up by a comment piece by Ed West “EHRC now targets ‘gay-only’ guesthouses. Just in case any straight Christian fundamentalists were planning a night in one
By Ed West Politics Last updated: February 22nd, 2011″.

According to Google News, there are nine stories like this one. But I don’t believe in Google News, so I looked a little harder. And then gave up.

If there is any knowledge from this story, it is that when EHRC briefers and Telegraph journalists meet for a chat, the EHRC briefer needs to imbibe less ale.

@94 The date stamp is from 2007 which is the same year that the current law came into effect, I recall all the local gay bars here in Blackpool at the time having information leaflets about the change in the law and how it prevented all the clubs from operating an exclusively gay-only entry policy, although basic rights of refusal of service still allowed them to keep out potential trouble makers. It’s possible that page simply hasn’t been updated to reflect those bar’s entry policies since the law change.

Indeed here, a running gag is that straight people are frequenting gay clubs more than gay people. Unfortunately, this is resulting in gay patrons occasionally receiving homophobic abuse within these clubs, and it is currently pot-luck whether the bouncers eject the victim of said abuse or the homophobic bigot at the moment.

@94 Chaise Guevara

From the link that you provided: “Picture the scene; it’s a scorching hot day and the trees shake gently in the warm breeze as you follow the water down cobbled streets.”

As a Lancastrian, I am permitted to say that the description of Manchester is a smidge dramatic.

The article is typical student journalism and the hyperbole should be judged on those terms.

98. Daniel Blaney

“I’ve never actually come across a “straight nightclub”. Do you have any examples?”

i assume you haven’t actually ever been to a nightclub then?

Chaise @ 84 (87)

We could go round the houses on this, but it is not ‘bigotry’ to turn away people going into a ‘gay bar’ because you feel that a group of straight guys are going in to gawk at the LGBT people in that bar. Sure if three guys are going into the club together and one is straight and he is barred while his two mates are allowed in, then it may be that there is a case to be heard, but how many times is that likely to happen?

If there are such things as ‘strictly gay only bars’ in this Country and people ‘suspected’ of being straight are banned ‘on principle’, then you may have a point, but then again, what would a straight person gain from demanding to gain entry? Surely that would be a niche in the market and perhaps even a throwback to a different era, but would this become a better Country if such places where closed down? For the life of me Chaise, I cannot see how ‘equality’ will be served by straight men the earning the RIGHT to demand entry into the ‘Blue Oyster’.

The Gay couple in the B&B is different because there is nothing unusual in entering a B&B. If gay people are to be fully accepted in society, then being ‘allowed’ to use a B&B must surely be part of that process? On the other hand, no-one is gaining acceptance by being allowed into a Gay Bar. The heterosexual community are not breaking the last taboo on a long winding path to acceptance. The guy who takes the gay bar to court because he failed the ‘gay entry’ test(?) is not going to be our ‘Rosa Parks’, is he? He is going to be a sad fucking loser who has nothing better to do and thinks he has scored a victory in the face of the PC ‘pro gay’ & anti British mafia. You know the type, the type of arse who votes for the candidate who wishes to ban ‘gay pride marches’ even if that means his City loses a vast amount of money. The type of person who sees gay marriage as an attack on straight people.

Don’t give these sad tossers the ‘victory’ the desperately need to justify their insignificant lives.

100. Chaise Guevara

@ 96 Cylux

“Indeed here, a running gag is that straight people are frequenting gay clubs more than gay people. Unfortunately, this is resulting in gay patrons occasionally receiving homophobic abuse within these clubs, and it is currently pot-luck whether the bouncers eject the victim of said abuse or the homophobic bigot at the moment.”

Y’see, here I see much better justification for the idea of having gay-only pubs. I just think that, if we’re going to go down this road, we should be talking about making an exception and allowing unfortunately necessary discrimination rather than acting as if discrimination against a majority group doesn’t count.

101. Chaise Guevara

@ 97 Charlieman

“As a Lancastrian, I am permitted to say that the description of Manchester is a smidge dramatic.

The article is typical student journalism and the hyperbole should be judged on those terms.”

It’s an advert designed to get people to go to MMU. Although I have to say that Canal Street is one of the nicest areas of inner city London – it seems like a different town to parts of the city that are only a few streets away – and that it has a big open grassy area that is indeed very nice on a summer’s day! But saying a bar has a gay-only policy is a statement of fact. It’s not hyperbole, although it could just be wrong.

102. Chaise Guevara

*London? FFS. Manchester!

103. Chaise Guevara

@ 98 Daniel

“i assume you haven’t actually ever been to a nightclub then?”

Sigh. Of course I have. Are you by any chance suggesting that nightclubs are straight because most people in them are normally straight? Newsflash: most people in general are straight. You might as well say that British nightclubs are normally white and brown-haired.

104. Chaise Guevara

@ 99 Jim

“We could go round the houses on this, but it is not ‘bigotry’ to turn away people going into a ‘gay bar’ because you feel that a group of straight guys are going in to gawk at the LGBT people in that bar.”

It really is. You’re prejudging people based on their sexuality and using that as an excuse to refuse service. Of course it’s bigotry.

The rest of your post mainly states that being banned from a gay bar doesn’t really harm straight people. Three points here:

1) You’re right, it doesn’t. But as I said before, we’re talking about litigation. I’m not comfortable with laws that are designed to allow wiggle-room for prejudice.
2) It may be more of a problem with other venues. Say I want to go to a festival in a holiday town somewhere. I can’t afford a posh hotel, so I try B&Bs, only to find that the only one that still has rooms is gay-only. Hence I can’t go, because I’m straight. If you allow legalised prejudice like this, something like the above will inevitably happen, and suddenly you’ve got people being treated unfairly with no chance of redress.
3) Things like gay-only bars absolutely play into the hands of the idiots you mentioned in your post. They go around telling everyone that the “gay agenda”, whatever the fuck that might be, is causing straight people to be discriminated against. They do this even if it’s not true, so proving them right really doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.

Also, I have a general idea that freedom and fairness should be for everyone, not just reserved for those groups that may need more protection. Society is generally moving in the right direction when it comes to issues like this, and I don’t think we should be fighting that even on an admittedly minor issue.

@100 Chaise Guevara: “I just think that, if we’re going to go down this road, we should be talking about making an exception and allowing unfortunately necessary discrimination rather than acting as if discrimination against a majority group doesn’t count.”

Firstly, I’ll restate my concern about this alleged investigation: the EHRC had no complaint and appear to be floating a hypothetical problem for which there is no evidence of harm.

Secondly, discrimination laws should stay as they are, for a while at least. For the most part they are signals, not absolute controls. That means enforcement (or non-enforcement) of law should be our concern, not an attempt to create the perfect law.

We have to accept that turning a blind eye to things that are technically illegal and possibly illiberal may help to create a more liberal society.

Chaise @ 104

Regarding your point:

1) Do you allow for ‘wiggle room’ for common sense?
2) How likely s tat, though? If that were the case, you may have a claim. If the colour of your money was the same as everyone else’s, I think you would have a case, though.
3) Really? You really think that ‘gay bars’ play into the hands of these nutters? You don’t think homophobic people are simply homophobic and will be that way no matter what?

Also, I have a general idea that freedom and fairness should be for everyone

Whose freedom is being curtailed by straight men not being allowed into a ‘gay bathouse’?

Mr S Pill

when someone uses their property to gain profit from a consumer they enter into a bargain with people that says “I will serve you whether or not you are black, gay, disabled, christian, trotskyite, EDL, or even a goddamn coalition MP”.

No. That’s not the bargain at all.

They offer their premises for potential rent to prospective guests and, if they wish, enter into rental contracts with such guests, voluntary on both sides.

In my view, to refuse to enter into a contract to rent a room to a couple because they are gay is bizarre and, in the recent case, is motivated by a wrong headed interpretation of an outmoded belief system.

But their right to control their own property is absolute and trumps intrusive anti-discrimination legislation, no matter how popular it may be in these parts.

Pagar @ 107

But that B&B does not exist in a vacuum. That B&B only exists because this couple are part of our society and as members of our society their business must comply with all the laws that our society impose on us. That B&B could not exist if it wasn’t for the entire the society it is in. The building, street, road, the economy, currency, the contracts and everything else that B&B requires to run including the ‘market’ for B&Bs did not just appear out of thin air, they all came into being after thousands of years of society/culture/laws that have shaped this Country. For this couple to simply say, ‘sorry, your laws are nothing to do with me, g’vnor’ is just idiotic.

Lets say this couple DID stay at the B&B for a whole weekend and then refused to pay or paid with counterfeit money or a stolen credit card etc, you can bet you bottom dollar that these people would be using the laws of this society to get their money back.

If these peoople are unhappy with the laws and/or rules that this society and wish to keep gays out of their house, they have the right to brick the thing up or simply shut up shop. That is freedom, but the freedom to ‘opt out’ of society, whilst still retaining all the benefits that society provides makes them the worse kind of parasites.

109. Just Visiting

Manchester gay bar Crunch on Canal Street: in the news last September for refusing entry to a black homesexual:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/09/13/gay-basketball-star-john-amaechi-too-black-for-manchester-gay-bar/

110. Just Visiting

Did anyone last week see Peter Tatchell’s comments – after Islamic posters were published calling for a gay-free zone in East London.

“I’ve been attacked by Muslim youths three times in and around Brick Lane. In all three attacks, the assailants shouted religious slogans. My LGBT Muslim friends who live in the area are nervous and anxious. They fear attack and dare not reveal their sexuality.

“Only last week there were reports of threats being sent by Islamists to gay students at South Bank University. LGBT History Month posters have been defaced by extremist Muslim students. Several universities have hosted hate preachers who endorse the killing of LGBT people.

“I appeal to Muslim religious and political leaders in East London to speak out against homophobia. We need a clear statement from the leader of Tower Hamlets council and from the senior imam at the East London Mosque. They should publicly condemn homophobia and call for tolerance within the Muslim community.

http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/4836/15/02/2011/islamists-spark-anger-after-calling-for-gay-free-zone-in-east-london.aspx

111. Just Visiting

Atacks on East London’s LGBT community seems to be under-reported on LC.

Further to those ‘gay-free zone’ posters:

the East London Mosque speaks with forked tongue. Yesterday, it was due to demonstrate its deep commitment to “standing together against homophobia” by hosting a gala dinner with one Uthman Lateef, a homophobic preacher who has stated: “We don’t accept homosexuality… we hate it because Allah hates it.”

Mr Lateef is one of at least half a dozen homophobic preachers hosted or promoted by the East London Mosque, three of whom have been officially invited to deliver the Friday sermon. In 2007, as my Dispatches programme on the East London Mosque disclosed, a “Spot The Fag” contest was staged at the mosque. In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in homophobic hate crimes in Tower Hamlets – something which simply cannot be unconnected to the fact that hatred of gay people is allowed to be openly and regularly expressed inside one of the area’s most prominent institutions.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100077810/east-london-mosque-keeps-on-lying/

@107

“But their right to control their own property is absolute and trumps intrusive anti-discrimination legislation”

Fine, so there’s nothing at all wrong with the old signs saying “No blacks, no Irish” etc? What a fun world you live in.

113. Political_Animal

So, in Preston we have two clubs roughly 100 yards away from each other. Both have been going for years, both serve a different clientele.

At one end of the road we have The Warehouse, the alternative/metal/indie venue of choice, made famous by a live recording there by Joy Division, shortly before Ian Curtis’ death. At the other end we have Lava/Ignite (formerly Tokyo Jo’s) the mainstream/cheesy pop/dance venue of choice, featuring visits from top name DJ’s.

At the Warehouse, you will most likely only get in if you are wear jeans/t-shirt/doc martens, or look like an indie kid/mosher/emo. At Lava/ignite, you will only get in if you are wearing shirt/trousers/shoes.

It is very unlikely, bordering on impossible, that the usual Warehouse crowd would get into Lava/Ignite. Whereas, whilst groups of lads wearing shirts/trousers/shoes, may be turned away from the Warehouse if it is decided they may look like trouble, there is still a possibility they may be allowed in.

The emo kid is quite safe in the warehouse, but likely to be attacked in Lava/Ignite. The mainstream kid is quite safe in Lava/ignite and would usually be fine in the Warehouse, but may get suspicious looks from the usual clientele. Maybe the Lava/Ignite crowd have come to gawp at the emo’s. Maybe they just fancy a bit of alternative music for a change.

Ultimately, everyone knows which clubs are best suited to themselves and whilst no bans are in place for clientele of other venues, you know the dress policy/style of music and what to expect once in there.

When in Rome?

@ Mr S Pill

Fine, so there’s nothing at all wrong with the old signs saying “No blacks, no Irish” etc?

No, of course not. There’s everything wrong with them. Are you deliberately missing the point?

Anyone not providing accommodation (or any other service) to someone because of their colour, country of origin or sexual orientation is a stupid, pathetic bigot. They are entirely wrong to do so and the irrationality of their stance should be utterly condemned by any sensible person.

But it is not the place of government to legislate to coerce them to use their property in a way they don’t want to, because that infringes their individual freedom.

It’s the same argument as freedom of speech.

Because the government, or anyone else, doesn’t like what you are saying that does not mean they have the right to prevent you from speaking or to compel you to say something else.

@ 114 pagar

Thankfully pagar relatively few people would agree with you.

Most of us believe that it IS the place of government to do exactly that. Your absolutist stance isn’t tenable. By upholding your extreme view that individual property rights, and individual freedom of expression trump ALL other considerations, you are accepting that different rights of other people can be over-ridden. They cannot, nor should they be.

116. Shatterface

This is the very worst kind of communitarian politics. I have plenty of gay friends and occasionally go clubbing with then in Manchester’s Canal Street – and I’ve never once met the kind of heterophobia contained in this article.

This isn’t about providing a ‘safe’ space for homosexuals, it’s about policing the blurred boundaries of sexuality on behalf of those who refuse to accept that sexuality is fluid and varies from time to time and from context to context.

The hostility towards transexuals is part of this same bigotted mindset.

How did this even get to the levels of debate shown here?

An owner has the right to set the rules regarding their establishment except those that can be deemed discriminatory. How is that defined?

Consider clothing restrictions; most don’t complain about establishments that won’t let you in if you’re wearing jeans or trainers. Why not? Because you can put on different trousers and shoes, come back, and be let in.

So that’s it fill in the following sentence of the owner’s rule: “You can’t come in because…”

If the missing word is something you can alter it’s not discriminatory; if it’s something you can’t change (or at least not without some drastic work or thought) it is.

Complete the sentence with “you’re straight” and it’s just as discriminatory as “you’re gay”. Sorry you can’t have the former unless you’re willing to accept the latter.

Pagar @ 114

But it is not the place of government to legislate to coerce them to use their property in a way they don’t want to

But it is not their property that the Government has legislated for, it is the business that the Government is attempting to legislate.

No one is suggesting that if you want to put up a couple of mates up after a drunken party, that you be compelled to put gay people in equal proportions. No one is coming to your house after Christmas to ask why you sent your gay brother law home this year, when you allowed a straight sister and her boyfriend to stay the year before.

No-one is demanding that you let gay people in your home. It is the business side of the house that is being subject to the law.

If these people cannot run a business according to the law they are more than welcome to sell up to someone who can. They can use the procede tobuy any house in the Country and ban gays from entering into that house.

119. john p_reid

I agree with chaise guevara(FOR ONCE)

tehy need gay only spaces so they don’t have to worry about booking a bed and breakfast (so they’re not refused entry for being a gay couple at a B&B,surley hte fact that the owners of the B7b wer efined for not leeting the gay’s in ,means that the state clamps down on people who refuse entry to B&B;’s as such if they’e refusing staright people entryt to gay clubs as gay people go there to amek sure the’yre not refused entry to hotels then it bigpoted to not allow striaght people in

There’s something in this comment from Shatterface

This isn’t about providing a ‘safe’ space for homosexuals, it’s about policing the blurred boundaries of sexuality on behalf of those who refuse to accept that sexuality is fluid and varies from time to time and from context to context.

By the sounds of it, some of these bouncer screened venues are quite horrendous places. They may be fun to be in, but I am reminded of some night clubs I saw in Bali that didn’t allow the regular locals in, just foriegn tourists and some well heeled local people.
Door policies suck in general.

@ Gallen

Thankfully pagar relatively few people would agree with you.

I’m sure you are right. Why else would they continue to vote in governments that produce such all-encompassing authoritarian legislation?

Most of us believe that it IS the place of government to do exactly that.

You are saying that most believe it IS the place of government to coerce its citizens into behaving, speaking and thinking as the government dictates.

Again, it would seem you are right.

But what about the minority who value freedom above security or ideology? Where is our protection from the tyranny of the majority?

“Where is our protection from the tyranny of the majority?”

I thought that was the point of having a gay only policy.

@121 pagar

Pagar, you have a very selective view of which liberties you want total protection for though!

You want to infringe the liberties of other groups, and assume that your hobby horses of individual property rights, and total freedon of expression trump ANY other rights in ALL cases.

The minority view their right to discriminate against homosexuals as more important than the rights of homosexuals not to be discriminated against. On balance, the majority/society (call it what you will) now believes that the proper weighting between the competing claims is that absolute property rights and freedom of expression of one minority cannot ride rough-shod over the rights of other minorities.

–I don’t want to be forced into separate rooms or try to get my groove on in twin beds for the crime of holidaying whilst gay.

To be fair, the crime was holidaying together whilst unmarried, this applied to straight as well as gay people (Which im sure you knew)

I also disagree with the idea of your article, because it seems hypocritical.

Also, I can understand gays wanting to be protected from the straights, as the straights always try to kill them.

But who will protect the straights from the aids and anal rapes and other stereotypes that must be true?

@116 To be fair to Kaite she does make that point halfway through her article. Roundabout when she asks the question “but who makes those decisions?”.

@ Gallen

On balance, the majority/society (call it what you will) now believes that the proper weighting between the competing claims is that absolute property rights and freedom of expression of one minority cannot ride rough-shod over the rights of other minorities.

Only problem is you’ve got the sentence the wrong way round. You meant to say-

On balance, the majority/society (call it what you will) now believes that the proper weighting between the competing claims is that the rights of minorities not to be discriminated against should ride rough-shod over absolute property rights and freedom of expression.

I disagree.

I think, even if I were part of a minority group being discriminated against, I would disagree.

@127 pagar

Not exactly. What you are leaving out of your re-phrasing is the fact that your emphasis on the rights of the minority who feel that property rights are an absolute, takes away the rights of another minority group. It is a question of which is the lesser of two evils…. and of course, as was pointed out above in the example of the bigots with the B&B, their property rights aren’t under threat or being taken away, they are being obliged not to discriminate in the provision of a service.

129. Richard Gadsden

I think there is a difference between a business that is open to the general public and a private members’ club. The club is owned by its own members and can blackball people; of course it can discriminate as arbitrarily as it chooses, and we have men-only and women-only clubs; we could equally have straight-only and gay-only clubs.

A business open to the general public is not private property in the absolutist sense that pagar means; indeed the business-owner has made a formal application to the local council to change it into being a public space (it’s called a planning application for a change of use). In that sense, it’s like a public right of way; you might own the land under the pavement in front of your house, but you can’t decide who walks along it.

Bars can operate a door policy that excludes people because they might make trouble, because they might not spend enough, or because their presence might put off people who will spend lots. And yes, people who might gawp at gay couples (even if they are themselves gay people who are new to the scene, and perhaps not fully out yet) are potentially going to put off the high-spending gay clientele and so the business-owner may choose to exclude them at the door.

B&Bs will need to be careful; can they exclude gay people because they have Christian customers who will refuse to sleep in a bed that gay people have had sex in? I would say no, but it’s closer to the line than I thought. What about requiring someone to keep Kashrut in order to keep a room Kashrut so Orthodox Jews can sleep in it? Harder still.

@ Richard

Thank you for engaging with the argument.

Your point about clubs is useful- though even here the long hand of intrusive state legislation can be felt. I could not, for example, form a club for smokers on my premises (tobacco far less marijuana).

I take your point that a business, open to the public, is not private property in the same sense as a residence but, in most instances, the business owner is able to contract business on his terms. A bar owner might disallow access to people wearing football scarves for example. The exception is where he refuses service on the grounds that he is discriminating on grounds of race etc.

My argument is that the contract to sell a glass of beer or whatever is a civil contract which should be voluntarily entered into on both sides and should be completely outside the ambit of the criminal law. I used to drink in the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh where the owner had the Declaration of Arbroath mounted on the wall and refused to serve Englishmen (usually until he had had his bit of fun at their reaction).

So a decision to admit only people the owner believes to be gay (or straight) should be perfectly legitimate, though it would be as equally bizarre a business decision as the above.

131. Chaise Guevara

@ 105 Charlieman

“Firstly, I’ll restate my concern about this alleged investigation: the EHRC had no complaint and appear to be floating a hypothetical problem for which there is no evidence of harm. ”

That does appear to be the case – but in the context of webspeak, it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference whether we’re talking about a real or hypothetical complaint, does it? The principle is the same.

“Secondly, discrimination laws should stay as they are, for a while at least. For the most part they are signals, not absolute controls. That means enforcement (or non-enforcement) of law should be our concern, not an attempt to create the perfect law.”

I suspect gay-only bars would be illegal under current law if straight-only B&Bs are. Hard to know whether that would be enforced.

“We have to accept that turning a blind eye to things that are technically illegal and possibly illiberal may help to create a more liberal society.”

True dat. I’m just not sure whether this is a case where that’s justifed.

132. Richard Gadsden

@pagar, as far as I am aware, you could form as club for smokers (presuming tobacco) provided you did not employ any staff.

133. Chaise Guevara

@ 106 Jim

“1) Do you allow for ‘wiggle room’ for common sense?”

Legally? Of course not. Firstly, that would just mean giving the judge carte blanche to make it up as they go. Secondly, one man’s common sense is another man’s outragous injustice. I recently heard about a survey in which most respondents agreed that common sense was “rare”. So there you go. Also, the fact that many people on this thread (in a liberal site, mind) disagree with your perspective makes it pretty clear you can’t just claim that your view is backed by “common sense”.

Asking for a “common sense” clause in a law is a bit like asking for a “give everyone the sentence they deserve” clause or a “always get the verdict correct” clause. Doesn’t make any sense.

“2) How likely s tat, though? If that were the case, you may have a claim. If the colour of your money was the same as everyone else’s, I think you would have a case, though.”

But you’re arguing that I shouldn’t have a case.

“3) Really? You really think that ‘gay bars’ play into the hands of these nutters? You don’t think homophobic people are simply homophobic and will be that way no matter what?”

No, I don’t think it’s that cut and dried. Some people will believe that they are discriminated against even in the face of no evidence. Other people will wait for the evidence and then react strongly. If you don’t want people to turn on you, don’t try to set up a system where they officially get a raw deal (even if it really makes no difference to their lives at all). People react to that sort of thing.

“Whose freedom is being curtailed by straight men not being allowed into a ‘gay bathouse’?”

Straight men’s. Again, you can’t take away freedom purely by saying “well, I don’t think you should want to use that freedom anyway”. Which seems to be what you’re going with here.

134. Chaise Guevara

@ 125 Dave

LOL! Well put.

@133

“Whose freedom is being curtailed by straight men not being allowed into a ‘gay bathouse’?”

Straight men’s. Again, you can’t take away freedom purely by saying “well, I don’t think you should want to use that freedom anyway”. Which seems to be what you’re going with here.

I’m pretty sure any man who is making the point to use a gay bathhouse has long given up the right to be called straight. Hetro maybe, but certainly not straight.

136. Chaise Guevara

@ 135 Cylux,

Possibly, but then you wouldn’t need a door policy.

@136 Heh, the one near me just has the standard boilerplate “Management reserve the right to refuse entry” as its door policy.

138. Hermeneuticals

Katie you state the following

” many gay people still do not feel comfortable expressing their sexuality in a mixed venue.”

But many others don’t feel comfortable with LGBT’s expressing their sexuality in a mixed venue, yet they are being compelled to accept it. It is as legitimate to argue for the right of a proprieter to operate a straight only establishment.

It’s either or. Either all establishments can state preferences or none of them can. Whereas the fears of LGBT’s is no doubt legitimate and justified, what you suggest amounts to discrimination against some but not others.


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    Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist http://bit.ly/ezFVMc

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    Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist | Liberal … http://bit.ly/dQ0TCo

  4. Kieron Merrett

    Disagree with this – don't think there's any reason a 'safe space' for gay ppl can't include their straight friends >> http://bit.ly/gWJOwV

  5. Phil Taylor

    @libcon Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist http://bit.ly/ezFVMc > couldn't be more wrong: we can't have it both ways.

  6. Kaite

    my post over at @libcon about why gay-only venues should exist is creating a fair bit of controversy: http://bit.ly/ezFVMc

  7. Elly

    RT @kaitewelsh: my post over at @libcon about why gay-only venues should exist is creating a fair bit of controversy: http://bit.ly/ezFVMc

  8. Dr. Matt Lodder

    ? " Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist: contribution by Kaite Welsh
    In the wake of a case that… http://bit.ly/gjpSz6 "

  9. AntikytheraMechanism

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/26/why-gay-only-venues-should-have-the-right-to-exist/

  10. Daniel Pitt

    RT @libcon: Why gay-only venues should have the right to exist http://bit.ly/ezFVMc





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