Australian Gay Bar Wins Right to Ban Heterosexuals

Peel1

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]

Peels

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

Related
Oh Really? Provincetown’s “New Intolerance” [tr]

Comments

  1. joe says

    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.

  2. anon says

    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.

  3. AB says

    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.

  4. stephen says

    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

  5. FizziekruntNT says

    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.

  6. dan says

    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.

  7. Norm says

    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?

  8. noah says

    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.

  9. woodroad34 says

    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.

  10. BitchyStella says

    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.

  11. Marco says

    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.

  12. michael says

    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.

  13. John says

    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.

  14. Patrick W. says

    ‘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.

  15. says

    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

  16. noah says

    “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

  17. Derrick from Philly says

    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.

  18. Mark C says

    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.

  19. 000000 says

    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.

  20. pablo says

    A couple of years ago we could’ve used that kind of segregation in my home town. For a while there was a real schism between the gay and lesbian communities. A gay bar would hold a bachelor auction or a party for single gay men to meet other single gay men and a crowd of lesbians would descend on it and disrupt it, despite the fact that the number of gay and lesbian bars were pretty equally matched. I’ve also suffered through bridal shower and bacholarette parties invading and gawking and “OH MY GOD!”ing. I have no idea what the cause was, but two years later it seems to have worked itself out and now my favorite bar to go dancing in is a lesbian bar.

  21. says

    noah i was saying their target domographic the image they portray they say Black Entertainment Television why is their no rock or classical just ‘soulful jazz” r&b and rap. Im black and im sick of being told my musc, guyc,lothes choice make me white which is what this channel backs up. Furthermore if o ne wants to be sucessful they go to the same colleges jobs banks so then why ddo they have black enterprise magazine do blacks use different jobs is their a black wall street. TOp that off most sexual harassment cases women play victim duke, kobe, more and more i stand by my point

  22. Derrick from Philly says

    Oh, Sasha: You’re so sincere, it’s heart warming. Diversity: that means there is room for everybody, and that’s what gay folks CLAIM to be about.

  23. janet says

    Very slippery slope this sort of rule/law causes. What next, he won’t let people in based on color, social standing, how much money they have in their wallets? Instead of copping out and banning people, maybe he should have done what a real businessman would have, hired a good security team.

    And, for the poster who dragged black folks into this, have you a clue? This is Australia, and their record other indigenous blacks is deplorable, so, no need to pull out a race baiting card,you have issues with blacks find the forum for your bashing and nonsense, especially when some posters here are bashing gay women, and a couple women in general. And no, women don’t play the victim, they usuualy are since the rules are still set up and enforced by men in just about every country on this planet.

  24. says

    Nice work Janet – I lived in Australia for 12 years (the worst period of my life) and it’s the most small-minded, racist, xenophobic, self-satisfied hellhole on the planet. “White is right” rules, and you’re tarred and feathered for having the wrong accent. It’s about time this alienation nation was outed – never before has such an excellent PR job been pulled off. Fair go and tolerance? Pull the other one!

  25. says

    The law has not been changed, an exception has been made in the case of The Peel based on a a couple of specific incidents outlined in the Court Decision linked above. (Not a court of law though, an Administrative Tribunal that mediates matters such as those relating to anti-discrimination laws.)

    The decision does not allow for a blanket ban, but gives The Peel the right to restrict entry for those who are not gay men. It’s a bar primarily aimed at a gay male clientel and has been mostly a gay male bar until the influx of straight and lesbian groups. Violence, harsh words and a change in atmosphere ensued.

    This does not open up a can of worms. The Tribunal will not automatically let other gay bars in Melbourne do this, unless they suffer the same kinds of problems The Peel has – which is less likely because most other gay bars in Melbourne have a far more mixed patronage in terms of sex and sexuality.

    This is not the same as a “straight” bar banning homosexuals. Given the sheer number of straight bars, The Peel should have every right to nurture the clientel it has – and keep it as gay male as possible. This was becoming harder and harder to maintain.

    The decision achieves two things – a public profile for The Peel as a predominantly gay male space, which welcomes everyone but reserves the right to restrict entry on the basis of being non-gay male; and two, it’s great publicity and makes me want to go there this weekend as a show of support!

  26. Dean says

    Sorry, but I don’t get it. Every business has the right to refuse service in the case of abusive or disruptive customers.

    Quite frankly I don’t like the practice of barring any “group”. You’ll never catch me patronizing a bar that discriminates against straight people (or lesbians! That concept is just mind-blowing to me!). I’ve been to clubs where there was the occasional disruptive straight person. They were shown the door… usually by the biggest drag queen. Never a problem.

  27. John says

    “Every business has the right to refuse service in the case of abusive or disruptive customers.”

    Yes, but it’s illegal to say they’re going to be abusive by virtue of the fact that they’re heterosexual. If anyone with money and a legion of lawyers can simply litigate their way to an exemption from anti-discrimination laws, why bother having them at all?

  28. schwarzestiefel says

    This place looks like it afford to hire bouncers, so why aren’t the bouncers just kicking out the assholes?

    And why aren’t the gay patrons growing themselves a few pairs and sticking up for themselves in the face of discrimination?

    Maybe the UN needs to send a shock troop of 6’4″ drag queens to fly down to Melbourne and kick some butt!

  29. Louie says

    Gay and from Melbourne, here.

    Personally I think the idea is wrong, while I understand the decisin (drunk heterosexual girls’ on a Bachelorette party can be cumbersome to say the least!), but to ban any non-gays from entering? Come on.

    Won’t this also fuel hate crimes? A person can pretend to be gay to get in, leave with a guy, and then out his frustration on that poor guy.

    We understand that most laws are against us, to to do the same to others is almost as bad.

    Separatism makes us no better than the neo-cons.

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