The Peel Hotel in Victoria, Australia — which isn’t so much a hotel as it is a bar/dance club with requisite go-go boys — managed to score quite an exemption from the state’s anti-discrimination law: It was permitted to ask patrons attempting to enter whether they were gay or straight, and refuse the breeders if the bouncers wanted. All that’s over now.
The gay venue will no longer be allowed to assess entrance worthiness based on sexuality, something it’s been permitted to do since 2007 when the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal granted an exception to the state’s Charter of Human Rights, which prohibits businesses from asking such invasive questions.
Rather than endorsing discrimination against heterosexuals, at the time it was seen as a way to protect gays trying to get their drink on from straight jerks, with the tribunal stating at the time the Peel could refuse “people who do not identify as homosexual males” if said people would get in the way of the bar’s gayness.
But in a new tribunal ruling this month, the bar will no longer be allowed quiz guests on their sexuality, but retain the right “to explain the nature of the venue to prospective patrons … and to permit them to choose whether or not to enter.” Though I’m pretty sure they’d figure it out after stepping two feet inside.
Is there good reason, though, for gay bars to block non-family from entering? It’s a slippery slope — of the kind that could also, in some minds, validate the argument of keeping gays out of straight bars. But answering the question requires a reasonable look at whether the congregation of gays at a venue unnecessarily attracts anti-gay violence? As we’ve seen, getting attacked at a gay bar doesn’t require being inside one. But some of my best nights out at gay bars were with straight friends, and I’d certainly rethink forking over $8 for a beer to any venue that, in the name of some false sense of safety, refused entry to someone based on his sexuality.