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Australian Gay Bar Wins Right to Ban Heterosexuals


Tom McFeely, owner of the Peel Hotel in Melbourne, has won the right from an Australian tribunal to refuse entry to heterosexuals after arguing that an increasing number of straight people threatened the safety of his gay patrons.

According to Reuters, "McFeely said that, while the hotel welcomed everyone, its gay clientele had expressed discomfort over the number of heterosexuals and lesbians coming to the venue in the past year. He said there were more than 2,000 venues in Melbourne that catered to heterosexuals, but his hotel was the only one marketing itself predominantly to gay men." Said Peel: "If I can limit the number of heterosexuals entering the Peel, then that helps me keep the safe balance."

A tribunal agreed with Peel. Said Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal deputy president Cate McKenzie: [If heterosexual men and women came into the venue in large groups] this would undermine or destroy the atmosphere which the company wishes to create. Sometimes heterosexual groups and lesbian groups insult and deride and are even physically violent towards the gay male patrons. Some women even booked hens' nights at the venue using the gay patrons as entertainment. To regard the gay male patrons of the venue as providing an entertainment or spectacle to be stared at, as one would at an animal at a zoo, devalues and dehumanises them. (This exemption) seeks to give gay men a space in which they may, without inhibition, meet, socialise and express physical attraction to each other in a non-threatening atmosphere."

The decision has understandably created quite a bit of controversy. Said McFeely: "I was expecting some flak. But I did it to protect the integrity of the venue and to ensure the safety and comfort of my regular gay clientele."

McFeely says that since the decision was handed down, the club has been receiving more threats than ever. McFeely: "The phone honestly hasn't stopped ringing and that's sad but it also in my head demonstrates the need for this type of thing, because there is still quite a bit of homophobia within the general community."

Court Decision [read it]
Peel Hotel [official site]


Gay pub bars heterosexuals [tr]
Gay Australian pub wins right to ban straights [tr]

Oh Really? Provincetown's "New Intolerance" [tr]

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  1. Reverse discrimination. What a novel idea.

    Posted by: Steven. | May 29, 2007 9:39:00 AM

  2. I'm going to Melbourne in a couple weeks... I think I'll check this place out! Hooray for free PR.

    Posted by: Jon | May 29, 2007 9:56:20 AM

  3. Brilliant! I gots to move my ass over to Melbourne then! If only we had somewhere like that here in Perth.

    Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2007 9:58:23 AM

  4. Australia is going loopy in terms of gay rights, I'm afraid. It's becoming very segregated, not only with this bar but with another one as well. There is also a very backward culture there in terms of acceptance of gay people. It's not nearly as tolerant or accepting of gay people as overseas people might think. Locals think of the Sydney Mardi Gras as a freak show more than anything.

    Posted by: joe | May 29, 2007 10:18:06 AM

  5. This is the sort of thing that Andrew Sullivan supports. I wonder if the ruling is carving out a "gay" exception to public accomodation or whether it applies to all groups.

    Posted by: anon | May 29, 2007 10:52:14 AM

  6. Reverse discrimination is discrimination nonetheless and should not be tolerated. While I sympathize with those Australian patrons who allegedly faced hostility from straight patrons, I do not believe that banning all straight people is an acceptable solution as it sends a message of intolerance and promotes an us-versus-them mindset.

    Of course, this doesn't just happen in Australia. When I tried to take my sister to a "gay" bar in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago, I was informed that she was not permitted to enter because she was a woman. I was shocked and embarassed. I tried to reason with the door guy, but he insisted that there are tons of other straight bars in the city and that they have similar policies vis-a-vis men.

    This may be true, but I'd like to think that the gay community, a community that itself faces discrimination on a daily basis, is capable of holding itself to higher standards. The "they do it so it's okay for us to do it" argument is weak and tired. Discrimination is discrimination.

    Posted by: AB | May 29, 2007 10:54:38 AM

  7. Well if i ever get down there for the Melbourne Cup then i'll be making a stop there.

    Yeah Australia has a bit further to go in terms of acceptance for gays. A step in the right direction would be to get rid of our homophobic Prime Minister.

    Oh and getting rid of the Mardi Gras would also be a good idea. As it's not doing us any favours

    Posted by: stephen | May 29, 2007 10:55:04 AM

  8. Thanks for that extra tidbit, Joe. A former Kiwi boyfriend that relocated to Sydney years ago continuously tried to convince me to relocate...after all, America was SO BACKWARD. Hrmmm. I know Sydney is not Melborn, is not Perth, is not Adelaide, is not...but wow, that's just really sad.

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | May 29, 2007 10:56:04 AM

  9. does this mean that australian straight bars can now bar entrance to gay men? that lesbian bars can bar entrance to gay men? because, technically, it should, and I hope that some of the bars in australia begin to do that so everyone can begin to see how ridiculous this is.

    Posted by: dan | May 29, 2007 11:04:59 AM

  10. Wow, this is interesting, while, I don't think that any sort of segregation is right, what's up with not letting lesbians in? Most major cites don't have but a couple of lesbian bars anyway, and I don't see why he would say no to them. It reminds me of the old days when they had all sorts of odd rules in this country to keep women out of gay bars, no opened toed shoes, when the guys were in flip flops.And, the old 3 pieces of ID to keep out others. Seems like he is taking two steps backwards, and what gay man is going to go in when they might encounter something mighty nasty when they leave?

    There has to be a better way to address this problem of uncouth straight folks, and I have to wonder, were there really that even going into the place in the first place?

    Posted by: Norm | May 29, 2007 11:05:19 AM

  11. AB : I'm sorry that happened to you re. your sister. Which was the Manhattan bar in question?

    Posted by: MJ | May 29, 2007 11:08:57 AM

  12. Segregation in 2007? If patrons of the hotel were unruly to any group, why not just call the police and throw them out instead of discriminating against a group of people? A group of straight women come to the hotel for a bachelorette party to stare at and berate gay men. Why not kick them out for being a nuisance or abusive?

    What's next, will Australia allow for an all heterosexual, all-whites or all-Asian, etc. hotel where people feel threatened aren't permitted?

    Public accommodations should not be allowed to legally discriminate. This is like the story about the Maryland club that denies admittance to Jews and African-Americans where Maryland's ex-governor held a fundraiser.

    I just don't buy the excuse that a law needs to be put in place.

    Posted by: noah | May 29, 2007 11:11:55 AM

  13. HK lounge on 39th. Was my first time going there. And my last.

    Posted by: AB | May 29, 2007 11:35:55 AM

  14. You'll notice that he said that he still welcomes everyone, but if straight clientele come specifically to make fun of the gay clientele then he has every right, in my book, to exclude them. Of course, the terrorist phone calls he's receiving proves the point and the need for a safe haven. Especially in a country run by a massive homophobe.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | May 29, 2007 11:52:03 AM

  15. I sympathize with the owner s decision to ban heterosexuals from his gay bar,because I understand his motives.This is not about discrimination,it s about protecting his clients.Do not judge without knowing all the facts.

    His ban was decided because heterosexual men and,yes,women, were attacking gay men in his club,by insults,threats and making jokes.A gay bar should be a place where gays should feel comfortable and this decision follows that line.

    Posted by: BitchyStella | May 29, 2007 12:00:22 PM

  16. If he is having problems with harrassment inside of his bar, he is well within in rights to ask the offending person or party to leave. I think excluding heteros for fear of what they could do is wrong and banning lesbians very wrong in addition to being very weird.

    Way to support your community.

    Posted by: Marco | May 29, 2007 12:00:40 PM

  17. I had no idea HK Lounge had policy of limiting women, but I think it's not such a bad idea for certain venues. Too many women in a gay bar can totally destroy the natural homoeroticism in the place. I love women, but have no interest in "fag hags" or the gay men who insist on using them as a crutch. PATHETIC for for both parties.
    I think SBNY has similar policy of limiting women, and I think it's great. Too many women were definetely ruining the vibe of that place.

    As far as the peel hotel in Austrailia goes, I think in the full article the owner states he is not banning all straight people, just the ones who are causing problems.

    There's a huge difference between discrimination and segregation. There are way more "straight" bars in any given city, than gay venues, and I don't see gay men "invading" those spaces to gawk at, harass,convert, or otherwise annoy straight people.

    Posted by: michael | May 29, 2007 12:03:58 PM

  18. This wouldn't happen in California, I can tell you that much.

    The courts have interpreted anti-discrimination law so broadly that you can't even say you "prefer" a gay/straight roommate in housing advertisements anymore. As that creates the "impression of hostility towards others on the basis of sexual orientation."

    And frankly, I agree with the California approach. I think the decision in Australia sets a very dangerous precedent. If "safety" were a legitimate reason to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion...I can imagine many instances in which a business will argue that it can legally discriminate because it can't "guarantee the safety" of patrons.

    Posted by: John | May 29, 2007 12:33:23 PM

  19. 'The lesbians are coming, the lesbians are coming!! One if by land...two if by U-Haul.'

    In all my years of going to gay bars/clubs, I've never encountered the "ruining" of a place because there were "too many women."

    Gimme a break.

    Posted by: Patrick W. | May 29, 2007 1:00:27 PM

  20. ill be at any club i please gay or straight if im going with a friend its a certain atmospere. This is like BET, most sexual harassment cases,and Black Enterprises

    Posted by: sasha | May 29, 2007 1:15:48 PM

  21. plus how can they tell (no two guys) if your gay or just friends. Maybe their is a deal on drinks either way pull that shit i dare someone

    Posted by: sasha | May 29, 2007 1:17:27 PM

  22. "This is like BET, most sexual harassment cases,and Black Enterprises..." What?

    BET? What the hell does BET have to do with this shit? BET, a crappy TV network at best, is no different than the local Korean or Polish TV station. Hell, how is BET any different than Logo or Telemundo. They're all niche networks aimed at an under served market.

    How about reading a book on how MTV used to discriminate against non-white recording artists. There's the famous interview from the 1980s where David Bowie asks an MTV VJ why the network didn't have any black artists. The VJ responded that white folks in the Midwest wouldn't like it.

    If you bothered to watch BET, you would know that the network shows white artists in addition to black. The company is owned by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom.

    Frankly, a lot African-Americans hate BET because it shovels out trashy stereotypes.

    So, hate BET because it's a crappy network, but don't play the BET is a racist network. Won't fly.

    Jeez, what

    Posted by: noah | May 29, 2007 2:07:06 PM

  23. Noah, be patient. We have a large immigrant population here. They see the tremendous power we blacks wield and they are in awe. I mean, look at how black businesses and Negro institutions dominate American life...although I do believe BET is a white owned company now. But who cares? That's all right-- we Coloreds own Fox Broadcasting. Did y'all not know that? Rupert Murdock is an Octoroon...just been "passin'" that's all.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 29, 2007 2:52:09 PM

  24. I can understand why the owner would want the right to exclude abusive straight patrons but Lesbians? That is strange. In the UK it is now illegal for gay bars to discriminate against straights as part of the overall equality legislation now in force. Though I know some bars in Manchester try to keep it 'regulars only' when the hen parties visit Canal St.

    Posted by: Mark C | May 29, 2007 3:35:42 PM

  25. Derrick, I'm surprised to see you here, with the enabled racism amongst these pages. But I guess you have your reasons. Please enlighten me, because I don't stay where I'm not wanted.

    Posted by: 000000 | May 29, 2007 3:56:53 PM

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