Australian gay
bar can ban straights

A gay bar has won
the right to turn away heterosexuals and even lesbians
to provide a nonthreatening atmosphere for the men partying
inside.

A tribunal in
Australia's southern Victoria state granted Melbourne's
Peel Hotel an exemption to equal rights laws, saying it was
needed to prevent ''sexually based insults and
violence'' aimed at the pub's patrons.

In her findings,
the tribunal's deputy president, Cate McKenzie, said
Monday that to allow large numbers of straight men and women
and lesbians into the bar could ''undermine or
destroy'' the convivial atmosphere that the Peel Hotel
sought to create for gay men.

McKenzie said
there was evidence some straight patrons were going to the
bar to use the predominantly gay customers as a form of
entertainment.

''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,''
she was quoted by News Ltd. newspapers as saying.

The pub will now
be able to advertise that it will turn away straight
people, and its door staff will be able to ask people
whether they are gay before allowing them inside.

Australia's Equal
Opportunities Act bans discrimination on the grounds
of race, religion, and sexuality, but exemptions are
allowed.

The head of
Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
applauded the decision.

''These
exemptions exist to protect groups in the community who are
subject to being treated less favorably or treated unfairly
compared with other groups,'' she told Australian
Broadcasting Corp. radio Tuesday. ''In this case what
we know is that there are many options for
heterosexuals to enjoy a safe social environment.'' (AP)

Tags: World, World

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