That seems to be a clear breach of the law. Look what the Equality Act (Sexual Regulations) 2007 says:
(1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“A”) discriminates against another (“B”) if, on grounds of the sexual orientation of B or any other person except A, A treats B less favourably than he treats or would treat others (in cases where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances).
It appears to me to be an open and shut case of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation to me, not that I'm a lawyer, of course.
The people concerned from LGBT Labour have rightly reported this breach of the law to the Police and this is by far the least of the problems that the pub's owners Punch Taverns in the morning. Their Chief Executive Giles Thorley, who actually leaves at the end of this month, will have a fairly full inbox (email@example.com in case you're wondering), including this from me:
Dear Mr Thorley
I’m writing to express my horror at hearing that the LGBT Labour group were denied service at your Greencoat Boy pub in Westminster on the grounds of their sexuality.
This is a clear contravention of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) 2007 which clearly state that:
“1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“A”) discriminates against another (“B”) if, on grounds of the sexual orientation of B or any other person except A, A treats B less favourably than he treats or would treat others (in cases where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances).”
I will not use any Punch Taverns facilities unless or until I can see that you are taking action to deal with this breach of the law, are working as an organisation to ensure that all of your employees know their legal obligations and that you will not under any circumstances tolerate such homophobic discrimination in the future. A public apology to the group concerned would be an essential part of that.
I look forward to hearing from you with details of your response to this shameful incident.
Also note that Mr Thorley is leaving at the end of this month and his place is being taken by Ian Dyson who formerly worked at Marks and Spencer. If the current regime fails to deliver an acceptable response, the new one might.
So what should Punch do?
In my view they have now had plenty of time to issue the required grovelling apology to LGBT Labour, weekend or not, but that is essential.
They need to show that they take this seriously and will ensure that nothing like this happens again.
What about the manager whose comments sparked the incident, though? Should he simply be sacked? I'm not so sure. He needs to abide by the law in future, but I'm not sure sacking him straight away would help and it would only have the effect of entrenching his own views.
I'd really love to have half an hour with him, just to see if I can find out where his prejudice came from. We know there is far too much homphobia out there - I've written about it often enough in this blog and like all prejudices, it will have its roots in irrational fear or lack of knowledge. Maybe if someone had a chat with this man in a non threatening environment, his views could be challenged and he might change his mind. Is that not worth a try?