Landlady accused of kicking out gay drinkers

PUBLISHED: 08:54 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 08:54 14 January 2013

Tavern Inn the Town, Regent Street

Tavern Inn the Town, Regent Street

Archant

A PUB owner has denied any wrongdoing after being accused of forcing drinkers to leave her venue because they are gay.

Lesbian Jackie Mason, aged 42, said she and 11 others were told to leave the Tavern Inn the Town on Sunday evening because staff did not want it to be a ‘gay bar’.

Many of the group were couples and had been kissing in the pub, and she believes that is why they were barred. But co-owner Sharon Malone told the Mercury their sexuality was irrelevant and they were only asked to leave after aggressively confronting staff who had asked a male couple to tone down their kissing, following a complaint.

The row broke out after the group spent several hours drinking at the pub in Regent Street (pictured above) following a meal at the new Hotcha takeaway nearby.

Ms Mason, who lives on the Bournville estate, said they arrived at the bar at 3pm and spent most of the rest of the day there before being asked to leave shortly before midnight.

She said: “We had an absolutely fantastic day, there were no problems with the regulars. The atmosphere was brilliant.”

Ms Mason, who spent about £100 on alcohol at the pub, said many of the couples she was with were kissing at various points during the afternoon, but not in an overtly sexual manner.

But the atmosphere changed after a member of staff asked two men to tone down their affections.

Ms Mason said: “The landlord told us: ‘this isn’t a gay bar and I don’t want it going on in my bar. It’s upsetting my regulars and I don’t want it in here.’”

The 42-year-old, who is set to marry her partner Michelle in March, said she has never experienced anything like it in Weston before.

She added: “It was outrageous. I have lived in the town for 32 years and I have been openly gay for most of that time.

“I have never ever in my entire history experienced any kind of homophobia in Weston before.

“Twenty years ago I would have expected it a little more, but not now.”

But Ms Malone said the group was not asked to leave for being gay, or for kissing in public.

She said they were not barred or refused a drink until several women surrounded and ‘intimidated’ staff, once the male couple had been asked to tone down their kissing.

She said: “The group had a great day but in the evening a couple of the guys were getting overly amorous.

“We chose to ignore it at first but then we had a complaint from one of our customers, a senior citizen.

“Had we said that to a heterosexual couple, like we probably do every week, then we wouldn’t have a problem.

“I find it upsetting that they have played the race card.

“We aren’t an anti-gay pub. I employ gay people, I have gay friends and my hairdresser is gay.”

Ms Mason told the Mercury she plans to report the incident, which has generated dozens of comments on our Facebook page, to North Somerset Council’s licensing committee.


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