Lesbians, heterosexuals banned from gay bar in Australia

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Map highlighting the location of Melbourne, Australia.

The Peel Hotel, located in Melbourne, Australia has been given permission by the Victorian State Civil and Administrative Tribunal to ban lesbians and heterosexuals from going into their bar which is catered specifically for gay men.

Owner of the hotel Tom McFeely, said he went to the tribunal in order to protect gay males by providing them with a bar that has a friendly atmosphere and where the men can be in a "non-threatening" situation.

"If I can limit the number of heterosexuals entering the Peel, then that helps me keep the safe balance. Heterosexuals have other places to go to; my homosexuals do not," said McFeely adding that there are over 2,000 bars and clubs around Australia for heterosexuals to attend.

The hotel's commissioner says that many of the gay men who attend the bar felt uncomfortable and felt like zoo animals.

"(They) also have felt as though they've been like a zoo exhibit with big groups of women on hens' parties coming to the club," said the Peels Hotel Commission Chief, Helen Szoke who also said that many of the bars gay men have been harassed or have been threatened with violence.

Lesbians and heterosexual individuals are still allowed to stay at the hotel.

Cate McKenzie, who is the chief of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission also supports the ruling saying, "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. 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 dehumanizes them."

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Lobby Group says that the ruling makes the Peel Hotel one of the only two establishments in Melbourne to cater specifically to gay men.