In a country where homosexuality was decriminalised 40 years ago most people would think twice before doing something which appeared to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their sexuality. However this wasn’t the case when the landlord of the “John Snow” pub on Broadwich Street in Soho threw out a gay couple on Wednesday, April 13th 2001 – for kissing.
Thomas Paget was probably surprised at what happened next. A Facebook campaign began and in the words of the campaign’s organiser Paul Shelter it had “Gone viral”. This resulted in hundreds of people arriving at the pub the evening of Friday 15th April with the intention of entering the premises and staging what they termed a “kiss-in”.
The landlord however had other ideas and closed early meaning the assembled couples had to kiss outside, filmed by the assembled media. The couple ejected on Wednesday James Bull and Jonathan Williams attended but chose not to kiss for the cameras.
Last year the pub chain Punch Taverns had to apologise to a group of gay men the Labour Party’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered Rights Group when they were refused service in one of their establishments. In 2009 a gay couple were refused a room at a privately run bed and breakfast in Berkshire an subsequently announced their intention to sue.
The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident on Wednesday, much will depend on the interpretation of the law as it pertains to the running of a public house where the publican traditionally does have the right to use their discretion as to who may use the premises and the rights of the gay couple at the centre of this row.