Gays say: ban straight women from our clubs

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The Independent Online

Radical gay men, fed up with women "hijacking" their clubs, are demanding a ban on entrance for females. Our Space, a militant pressure group, has been set up to "reclaim" venues in Brighton, Britain's self-proclaimed gay capital, from an invasion of "let's-take-a-peek straights".

Radical gay men, fed up with women "hijacking" their clubs, are demanding a ban on entrance for females. Our Space, a militant pressure group, has been set up to "reclaim" venues in Brighton, Britain's self-proclaimed gay capital, from an invasion of "let's-take-a-peek straights".

The launch of the campaign has plunged a city famed for its tolerance into a debate over who should and should not be allowed into gay venues. Formed by homosexual hardliners, Our Space claims gay bars are under siege from straight women intent on "converting" them. It wants gay bars to ban women, including lesbians.

Johnny Lord, 38, founder of the group, said: "These people just want to come and have a look at the 'freaks'. The Manchester gay scene has effectively been destroyed by let's-take-a-peek straights, and that's going to happen here unless we do something."

Mr Lord, an outspoken critic of what he describes as the "mincing" of the Pride marches and modern gay icons such as Graham Norton, said: "Heterosexual women have a fantasy of converting gay men. A woman I was talking to in a bar once said to me: 'All you need is the right woman'. But nothing will make me change." He argues that the presence of women, including lesbians, sterilises the atmosphere in venues used by gay men. When straight women are rejected by homosexual men they often become aggressive, he said.

Mr Lord does not deny he is a misogynist, but he had no problem with the idea of some straight bars or clubs banning gay men.

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, whose support has been canvassed by Our Space, said a ban on women in gay bars "smacked of discrimination", but added: "Most of us accept that it's okay to have clubs specially for women or black people. Likewise, there should be spaces for gay men or gay women."

Angela Mason, executive director of Stonewall, the gay rights pressure group, said: "The sort of gender discrimination Mr Lord is suggesting would probably be unlawful. It sends out all the wrong messages, and I don't think it's in accord with the mood in the gay and lesbian community. Gay rights is all about us moving into the mainstream of society and becoming equal citizens. This seems like a retrograde step."

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