A tribunal in Melbourne has decided that a local gay pub has the right to ban heterosexuals from its premises.
I initially heard the story on BBC this morning, and I did have to stop and think about it in order to decide whether or not I agreed with the tribunal’s decision. And in the end, I did agree. The factor that makes this situation different from the pre civil rights American south, or Nazi Germany, is that groups of heterosexuals had been going into the pub to ridicule and bully the gays. For any of you that have witnessed large stag groups and hen parties in Prague, you can imagine how offensive and frightening that could have been.
Later in the morning, I got an email from Opie, in which he asked me for my thoughts on the matter and on the fact that Australian civil libertarians were supporting the decision. He added:
I am pretty tolerant towards everyone, but this just strikes me as contradictory. (Can I now start a white lapsed Catholic, heterosexuals only club there? Feel free to start one for whatever group you so desire.)
I emailed him back:
I also heard the story this morning. As a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist, I am in favour of a private business being able to decide its policies for itself. And if hen parties and stag groups had been going into the bar to ridicule the gays, they deserve to be banned. Here in Prague, bars post signs saying “No stag parties”. We don’t have a problem with that.
The rest of the conversation went like this…
So if private businesses bar blacks, gypsies, others, etc that’s OK?
My thoughts are that stag/hen parties should be incentivized to go elsewhere. Perhaps put a limit on the number of people allowed in and at the 1st sign of trouble, throw ’em the fuck out.
This just strikes me as a slippery slope and a bad precedent.
A private business should be able to bar whomever they want. But would you go into a bar that had a sign on the door saying “no blacks allowed”? I would not. Especially if the sign was instead “Juden verboten”.
The real answer is that groups of hetero women or men should not use the gays as a source of amusement. Gays are not monkeys in the zoo, after all. My feeling is that the bar owner should be able to decide whom he lets in, and it’s up to him how he does it. And all heteros would not be barred; the idea is to keep out groups that make trouble. And remember, barring the dominant social group in order to protect a persecuted minority group is different from barring that same minority group just because you don’t like them.