England

Bar's mixed-couples door policy 'deeply offensive'

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

A bar which refused entry to a gay couple has a "deeply offensive" door policy, an MP has said.

Newcastle's Patrick Hannon, 30, and Jake Archer, 25, were told by bouncers at Jake's Bar in Leeds only "mixed-sex couples" were allowed in.

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel said such an approach "invariably discriminates" against LGBT+ people.

The venue said its door staff strive "to keep a mixed and diverse crowd inside the bar".

Mr Sobel has sent a letter to the manager of the bar also signed by Headingley councillor Jonathan Pryor.

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Image caption Jake's Bar is in the heart of the city's nightlife

The pair said while they acknowledged the venue's claim it had tried to create a policy that prevented discrimination, "in this instance it has clearly failed".

"The concept of refusing potential customers based on their gender is a problematic approach that invariably discriminates against LGBT+ individuals," it continued.

"Regardless of intent, this policy implies certain individuals are somehow less valuable as patrons.

"This is deeply offensive to LGBT+ individuals who have fought for many years to live their lives openly and to break down the barriers of homophobia and prejudice they face."

The letter went on to criticise the "cynical" way mixed-couples are used by pubs and clubs to "ensure a minimum number of women customers".

It read: "Women do not exist to compliment the ambience of a bar, nor to provide the possibility of pursuit for men."

'Never discriminate'

Mr Hannon and Mr Archer said they were left "speechless" when they were not allowed in on 24 March because they were both men.

Jake's Bar is in Call Lane which runs parallel to Leeds' gay village.

A spokeswoman for the bar said the MP and councillor's comments were "completely unfounded".

She added: "Our door staff strive to keep a mixed and diverse crowd inside the bar, with their sole intention to protect the safety of our patrons and staff."

On Wednesday, manager Paul Lane said the bar has a "strict equality and diversity policy" and would "never discriminate" against anyone.

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".

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