Lesbian King’s student turned away from gay clubs for being a woman

G-A-Y and Heaven wouldn’t let her in


A King’s student has reportedly been refused entry to two famous gay London nightlife venues on the basis that she is a woman.

Student Hannah Riley has come out against the nightclubs – ‘G-A-Y Late bar’ and ‘Heaven’ – after her and her female friends were turned away while celebrating one of her male friend’s birthday’s, who was gay also.

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The incident occurred on 13th May whilst Hannah and her friends – two men and four women – began queueing at around midnight at G-AY Late bar. Riley explained:

“We were about halfway to the front, and one of the security staff (a woman) said to me ‘Er ladies, have you got membership cards?’ And we said ‘No’. And she replied, ‘Well, you girls can’t come in then.'” This was accompanied by the fact that her male friends were not asked for memberships.

Despite persisting and queueing for a second time, the answer was exactly the same, which lead Riley to consider that they were denied access to the club because of their sex, with the club not full.

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The doorman suggested that they try the nightclub ‘Heaven’ that was close by, which is also in association with G-A-Y. Riley and her friends checked with the door staff that they could enter after they first went to get some food, and they were assured. However, on returning, they were denied access once more, due to a lack of membership, despite Riley reminding the door staff of their previous discussion. Once again, their male friends were granted access.

“They said that, yes, he was allowed in and the women were not. They didn’t ask once, ‘Have you all got membership cards?’ It was just, repeatedly, ‘Ladies, have you got membership cards?’

Riley suggests that while protesting the decision, the staff took verbal action in calling her ‘mouthy’ and physical action also:

“He pushed the barrier into me and told me to leave. I said, ‘This is really sexist’ and left.”

When telling this to two nearby police officers, they did not take it seriously:

“I said, ‘They didn’t let me in because I’m a woman.’ They (the police officers) just laughed at me.”

Riley has described the much wider consequences for this, and how this is much more than this particular night:

“I’ve had really awful experiences in (straight) clubs, such as being punched in the face by someone because i didn’t let them feel my boobs. As a result, i don’t like going to places that aren’t gay, so when i got turned away i was so upset.”

“LGBT venues should be safe and welcoming places for lesbians. If i can’t go to the famous gay bars in London, where should i go? I don’t feel as if you can go out in soho as a lesbian or a trans person and feel like you’ll be protected. People should be able to go to places and not to exposed to the same kind of discrimination as wider society.”

Riley also mentions how the treatment towards her by staff in gay clubs compounds the issues: “They have an image of what a gay woman looks like. Because i’m not butch they just think i’m straight.”

Riley wrote an open letter to G-A-Y about her experiences, as well as tweeting Joseph, and this was his full statement:

“Heaven and G-A-Y, like bars and nightclubs up and down the country, are in a position where they have to turn away customers on a nightly basis where, in the judgment of their security teams and door staff it is reasonably necessary to do so to meet these obligations. In the case of G-A-Y venues they all have a strict door policy which refuses entry to anybody who appears to be a risk to themselves or others and which gives priority to members and regulars, which is a policy that has been implemented following consultation with the Metropolitan Police and Westminster Council. As a result it is sometimes necessary to turn people away, either due to their own behaviour or due to the venue being at capacity with priority being given to regular customers and members. However, nobody has ever been turned away for reasons which are not related to G-A-Y’s legal obligations.

“G-A-Y has been a proactive exponent of equal opportunities and equal rights for decades. We take our responsibility as a prominent brand within the gay community very seriously and use it to promote inclusiveness, tolerance and to deter discrimination. We were one of the first gay bars in the capital to open a lesbian bar which has been welcoming female customers for over 12 years – this longevity could never have endured if we were discriminating against women and refusing entry on grounds of gender. We engage female staff and contractors in the most senior and responsible roles within our Group including the female General Manager of G-A-Y Late and the female door staff at G-A–Y Late and Heaven who would have dealt with the complainant during the alleged visit.”