‘Queer’ drinkers fury: Manchester Wetherspoons deny refusing service over sexuality but admit homophobic comments

By David Keane

A Manchester Wetherspoons have denied that they refused to serve three men because they were gay – but admitted homophobic language was used by staff.

Three men had finished working at a Canal Street venue in the city’s Gay Village and had gone for breakfast at 7.30am on Tuesday.

The men claimed they were told to leave the premises due to the fact they were gay. It is alleged the barmaid said: “I know what you queers are like.”

However Wetherspoons have told MM that the refusal of service had nothing to do with the men’s sexual orientation, yet apologised for the language used by the staff in the exchange.

A Wetherspoons spokesman said: “The member of staff serving them believed one member of the group to be intoxicated. After conducting an investigation into the matter, we are satisfied that the decision to refuse service was not based on the sexual orientation of the individuals concerned.

“In the conversation that followed the initial refusal of service both the group and member of staff made reference to the sexuality of the customers but  this was not intended on the member of staff’s behalf to be in any way offensive and we apologise if it was considered so.”

Matt Bonilla, 23, was one of those refused service. He claims that after he heard the comment he asked the barmaid to repeat herself, which she did. The barmaid then told them to leave the bar as the police had been called.

Mr Bonilla says the group then waited outside the venue for 10 minutes to see if the police would come – when they didn’t, he called the police himself.

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, while Mr Bonilla welcomed the apology, he still won’t be setting foot in a Wetherspoons again.

“This whole episode will make us a bit more cautious about where we go to eat or drink around Manchester in future. We certainly won’t be going in this Wetherspoons again,” he told MM.

“All we wanted in the first place was an apology and it’s just annoying that it takes it to get to this point for a major company like Wetherspoons to bother saying sorry.”

Mr Bonilla believes that incidents like this could be avoided with better training about homophobia within companies.

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.”

Mr Bonilla has since praised the police for being ‘more than co-operative’ over the incident and thanked them for their help.

Picture courtesy of Frankie Roberto, with thanks.

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