LGBT History Scotland

City bar denies discrimination against homosexuals, Press & Journal, Aberdeen, 1977, 9 Dec: p1:

A group of "Gay Libbers" have been barred from an Aberdeen pub and said last night here was discrimination.

But, Mr Ian Rhind, manager of the Scotia Bar, 7 Summerfield Terrace, said: "They were asked to leave because of their behaviour ­ not their sexual habits."

After "The Press and Journal" received a letter bearing 23 typewritten names and a King Street address, a reporter called at that address and interviewed some of those whose names were listed.

The first name on the letter was 22-year-old Caroline Airs, but the others ­ some professional people - asked not to be names for fear of "harassment."

The group are part of Aberdeen's "Gay Community" - trying to establish a "gay theatre".

It was after one of the meetings to discuss starting such a theatre that six of the group - two men and four women - went for a drink in the pub.

"One of us went to the bar in the lounge for the drinks only to be told 'Go elsewhere, we don't want you here'," said Caroline ...

"We were refused service , and no reason was given. All six were fairly regular customers of the bar and have never caused any trouble there," she said.

They believe they were banned because five of them are homosexuals, and refuse to hide the fact."

Last night, all the group members present sported "Gay Lib" badges and agreed they were wearing them on the nght they went into the lounge bar. The refusal to conceal their tendencies is known in "gay language" as "coming out."

When one of the group returned to the bar next day , Caroline said, he was told they had been barred because they were homosexual.

"Yes, we were wearing badges. Some of us have even held hands in the bar, but we've done nothing outrageous. In the past everyone in the bar has always been very friendly towards us," she said.

She also claimed that two of their number had also been asked to leave another city centre bar.

Caroline said: "We feel that homosexuals should be entitled to drink wherever they wish, in peace and without harassment. We are supported by many others - gay and heterosexual."

Before our reported was allowed into the King Street flat, where some of the group live, the undertaking had to be given that only Caroline's name be revealed - "in case the others are subjected to harassment in their jobs."

The group also asked that the address not be given "in case a brick comes through the window some night."

But one of the signatories of the letter, Mr John Burgon, president of Gaysoc, Aberdeen University student body, said last night: "Any publican no doubt has the right to refuse service to anyone, but it would be very disturbing if his sole grounds for refusal were that the customers were homosexual."

Another person who signed the letter, a senior schoolmaster, asked specifically that his name be removed from the list submitted to “The Press and Journal” because it would not be politically wise for me to be named in connection with this.”

Mr Rhind gave this statement: “They were cheeky, blatantly using bad language and making unkind remarks about other customers.”

He said that because of conduct, “my barmaid had a red face.”

“Some had been customers for months were very well behaved and freely advertised their sexual preferences with badges.

“But that particular night their behariour was just not conducive to our establishment.

“Their sex life is their own concern, but I have to consider my staff and other customers, some of whom were extremely embarrassed.

“They went over the score.

He said that it was policy not to give a reason for asking someone to leave because it could lead to more trouble.

“We just say 'time to go Sir, and don't come back'.”