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London's First 'Gay Pub' Experiences Identity Crisis

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According to , London Central Employment Tribunal has upheld a claim of  against the owners of London's first 'gay pub.'

Charles Lisboa, 41, started work at the Coleherne Arms in December 2008.  It had long attracted an exclusively gay clientele.  Things changed after its acquisition by Realpubs, however.

The new owners decided to rename the pub the Pembroke Arms and refurbish it into a 'gastro-pub' to attract more patrons from outside the gay community.

Mr. Lisboa said this amounted to 'an anti-gay policy' as Realpubs Director Malcolm Heap and Pembroke Arms General Manager Jimmy Sydney took various steps to 'de-gay' the pub, even putting a sign outside stating: 'This is not a gay pub.'

Mr. Lisboa decided he had no option to resign.

While the employment tribunal agreed Realpubs subjected the claimant to , it rejected his claim for .

Paul Daniels, Mr. Lisboa's solicitor, had this to say:

"This landmark decision confirms that an establishment that wishes to change from serving a mainly gay clientele to a mixed clientele, must not do so in a way that discriminates against gay clients.  The decision also serves as a stark warning to any employer who tolerates abuse and prejudice against gay staff or customers.

"In this case, the tribunal accepted that numerous abusive comments were made by Realpubs managers referring to gay customers as 'queens' and accusing someone of being "too camp" and that this amounted to  against a gay employee.

"It is, however, disappointing and very surprising that the tribunal saw fit to conclude that our client was not constructively dismissed following the discriminatory treatment and abusive remarks the tribunal unanimously found he had been subjected to.  We are closely studying an appeal on that point.

"The tribunal appears to have incorrectly focused too much on the intention of the company and not its effect on our client.  Our client believes that this decision, if upheld, effectively rides a coach and horses through the equality legislation."

Mr. Lisboa was "delighted" the tribunal accepted his claim for  but equally disappointed it rejected his case for .  "I do not understand how the tribunal found that I had been the victim of a repeated pattern of discriminatory treatment and yet decided I was not entitled to resign in response.  How could I be reasonably expected to continue to work at a place that allowed such treatment?"

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