‘I know what you queers are like’: Manchester Wetherspoons barmaid refuses to serve trio over sexuality

By David Keane 

Update: Wetherspoons have issued a statement and apology here.

A group of Gay Village workers were allegedly refused service at a Manchester Wetherspoons yesterday morning simply because of their sexuality.

The three men, who entered the Piccadilly branch at 7.25am to get breakfast, were told to leave the premises due to the fact they were gay. It is alleged the barmaid then said: “I know what you queers are like.”

Shocked, the three men asked the barmaid to repeat herself which she did, then also telling them to leave the pub as they were unwanted and that the police had been called.

After waiting outside the venue for 10 minutes there was no sign of police which prompted the men to report the incident themselves.

The woman was later arrested by police and questioned but was released without charge as the police were satisfied that although homophobic language had been used, the group were not refused service just because of their sexuality. 

However, one of the men, Matt Bonilla, 23, who works at a Canal Street venue, said: “To be told I know what you queers are like for ordering food is absolutely appalling.

“At first we thought she was joking and asked her to confirm what she said and again she said the same ‘I know what you queers are like’.”

When police arrived at 8.25am the three men gave statements and the case was reported as a grade 2 ‘serious incident’ and they were taken to Bootle Street Police Station.

The men were then taken to Central Park Police Station where the incident was labelled a NFA (no further action) despite the barmaid confessing to discriminating them.

“The issue was with the desk sergeant, who said that the barwoman didn’t use homophobic language ‘with malice’, despite the girl admitting she made the homophobic comments which resulted in her detention with Greater Manchester Police,” added Matt.

“The LGBT communities should be able to stand up and be who they are without fear of homophobic abuse.

“My colleagues and I will never step foot in any Wetherspoon branch.”

Despite their dissatisfaction at the outcome with the police, the Canal Street workers told MM that the beat officers were extremely helpful.

However the LGF are determined to see more done about it and are going to bring the issue up with the neighbourhood policing team for the Village.

A spokesman from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation said: “The LGF is urging our followers to let Wetherspoons know that this kind of behaviour is homophobic, and should not be tolerated.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon, said: “We are aware of an incident at the Wetherspoons pub.

“Until we have spoken with those concerned, we are unable to give a fuller account.

“We will be speaking to those concerned as soon as possible and guarantee that the incident will be investigated by senior management within the company.”

One of the other three men, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I will never set foot in any Wetherspoons again, and would urge people to help make a stand against homophobia.

“I believe an apology from Wetherspoons, and the assurance that their staff will receive additional training in diversity and equal opportunities, would be appropriate.

“I’m not asking for this woman to be sacked, I am open minded and understand that people need to earn their living, but a change of attitude would be the best victory.”

Matt added: “We never got any breakfast. If she had said it and then continued to serve us then we might not be taking it this way.

“It’s not like we came in stumbling around. We had just finished a shift and just wanted some breakfast. She had made the presumption that we were ‘queer’.”

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “Police received a report that three men had been refused service inside a licensed premises in the Manchester Piccadilly area and that they believed this to be a homophobic incident.

“Officers attended and a woman was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and was taken into police custody for questioning.

“The woman was later released without charge.”

Image courtesy of Anders Adermark via Flickr, with thanks.

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