England

Gay men told Leeds bar was for 'mixed couples only'

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Media captionGay men told bar 'for mixed-sex couples' only

A gay couple were refused entry to a bar when bouncers told them they let in "mixed-sex couples" only.

Patrick Hannon, 30, and Jake Archer, 25, had enjoyed a meal before heading to Jake's Bar in Leeds for a drink at about 22:00 BST on 24 March.

The couple, from Newcastle, were left "speechless" when they were not allowed in because they were both men.

The venue said it "never discriminates" and is investigating the incident with its "externally supplied" door team.

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Public sector worker Mr Archer said there was no queue outside the bar and neither he nor his partner were drunk.

"We were a bit taken aback to say anything," he said.

"I was just thinking that if Paddy was my girlfriend then we would have been allowed in. It's discrimination."

Image copyright Jake Archer
Image caption The couple said the incident was "discrimination"

The pair, who have been together for two-and-a-half years, said they were too shocked to argue with the doormen and went elsewhere.

Mr Hannon, a police officer, said: "If we were drunk or in a large group then you would understand.

"They need to think about how it makes them look - as a bar they are not very open minded."

Mr Archer tweeted the bar about the incident, but did not receive a response.

Jake's Bar is in Call Lane which runs parallel to Leeds' gay village and is in the heart of the city's nightlife.

Manager Paul Lane said it has a "strict equality and diversity policy" and would "never discriminate" against anyone.

It has launched an investigation into what happened on the night with the "external door team".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Jake's Bar, on Call Lane, has been open for nearly 14 years

He said: "We have many customers who identify with LGBTQIA+ communities who frequent the bar regularly."

The BBC does not know the name of the security firm involved, but it has been contacted for comment by the bar.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the incident "would certainly appear to be unlawful discrimination, which we would condemn".

Leeds City Council said it was "seeking assurances from the owners of these premises that their door policy is reflective of national equality legislation".

What does the law say?

The Equality Act of 2010 says it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of sexual orientation.

The act provides protection from discrimination as a consumer, when using public services and as a member or guest of a private club or association.

If you feel that you have been unfairly discriminated against then you can seek help from the Equality Advisory Support Service.

You may be able to take them to court and claim damages.

Source: Gov.uk

A spokesman for LGBT rights charity Stonewall said: "It's against the law to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation in any circumstance, including entry to a bar.

"It's unacceptable that one in six LGBT people (17%) who visited a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub in the last 12 months have been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in Britain."

Similar claims have been made about the bar in reviews on travel review website TripAdvisor.

Thomas B said he was "outraged" by a "homophobic bouncer" in May last year.

He wrote: "I was with my partner and we were refused entry for not being in a mixed couple."

'Matching rings'

Brett T also advised in March 2016: "Avoid if you're male. Their new policy that won't let a group in [four people] unless it includes women is a joke."

Paul contacted the BBC to say he and his husband and experienced a similar situation at the bar a few years ago.

He said: "When we tried to enter with our (mixed sex couple) friends we were told they were only allowing couples entry.

"When we politely explained that we were both couples (and indeed that we were arguably more so than our unmarried friends given that we were in a civil partnership and wearing the matching rings to prove it) they still refused us entry.

"We've never tried to go back again after that.

"This area of Leeds does have an issue with large groups of intoxicated revellers, however [it] would appear that this venue also has an issue with understanding that adopting a 'couples only' policy doesn't always equate to a man and woman."

Jake's Bar was asked to respond similar claims and whether they have a policy to only let in groups containing females.

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