Social Justice. Equality. Enterprise.

Should a same sex couple kissing still be a problem in the UK today?


The Guardian, 15 April 2011

You go on a date. Pizza leads to crêpe, which leads to a nice pub you go to regularly. It's all going so well a second date is agreed before dinner is over.

This was my experience upon first meeting James Bull last Wednesday. Enjoying each other's company in the John Snow pub in London's Soho, we kissed. However, someone claiming to be the landlord asked us to stop and after polite words were exchanged, we went back to talking.

The rest of the evening went well, until we were asked to leave by the landlady; she said our kissing was bothering other customers. We eventually left the pub, after being advised by a plainclothes police officer that it was within the landlady's rights to ask us to do so. I was shaking with rage.

I understand that people have different levels of tolerance to public displays of affection. I myself do not enjoy seeing two people lip-locked for hours, in a highly sexual manner, because I think that some things are best enjoyed as a twosome.

But I do not see what we were doing as anywhere close to that, so while it is a shame that our kisses were beyond some people's tolerances, I think that certain levels of affection have to be accepted in pubs during the evening.

I also do not think we would have been asked to leave if we were a straight couple – it would be foolish for the pub not to welcome couples enjoying a date, especially in an area with so many romantic restaurants.

Should two men kissing still be a problem in the UK, in London, today?

We have openly gay politicians where their sexuality is a non-issue; we have television storylines featuring both women and men in happy, stable relationships with same sex partners. Walking around most major cities, you come across more than a few well-adjusted gay couples.

I have been asked if it wouldn't have been more appropriate for us to visit a gay bar, but why should we limit ourselves to places that openly state their acceptance?

Why should we not be allowed to kiss, as long as it is not indecent, anywhere we choose?

I'm not frequently out in Soho's gay bars. I simply choose the places I know and am comfortable with.

It is important, as we move away from decades of backward laws that outline the differences between gay couples and straight that we embrace being gay as just something ordinary, mainstream. It's only kissing.

Please see the original article: 


150 people to protest over

pub's alleged homophobia


Pink Paper, 14 April 2011

Over 150 people have confirmed their attendance at a staged 'kiss-in' at the pub where two men were allegedly ejected because of their sexuality, last Saturday night.

The event, which has been organised on Facebook less than 24 hours after the story broke, responds to claims the John Snow pub in Soho discriminated against same-sex couples.

If true, the incident defies the Equality Act 2010 which says that goods and services must be offered to all fairly, regardless of sexuality.

Now, the peaceful protest is due to take place next Thursday and will see people of all sexualities gather at the venue to kiss.

Protest Co-creator, Benjamin Palmer, spoke to Pink Paper this afternoon. He said:

"I am a bisexual man and I moved here from Canada four years ago. One of the many things I love about London is the freedom I feel to walk around holding hands or kissing a partner of any gender without fearing harassment. The protest is for everyone, gay or straight, young or old. The plan is to show up, be in the venue, and to do a lot of kissing. They can pick on one couple, but they cannot pick on dozens!"

He continued: "I want to stand up to John Snow because I think that the right to be in love, and to show signs of affection, is a right to be held by all, not just straight people. This morning's claims have already received global attention and several other so-called 'kiss-ins' has begun to be planned on Facebook.”

Despite contacting the pub on numerous occasions, they have failed to give us a quote or clarify their position.

The brewery, Samuel Smith's, have also failed to provide a comment.

Please see original article: 


Pair ‘overwhelmed' by response to

gay kiss at Soho pub


By Andy Dangerfield, BBC News, London

It started with a kiss - on a first date between two men in a pub in Soho, central London's gay heartland.

From that moment, neither James nor Jonathan could have imagined in their wildest dreams the events that would unfold in the next 48 hours.

"The date had been going really well until that point," said James Bull, 23, reflecting on Wednesday night.

But he and Jonathan Williams, 26, said they were thrown out of the John Snow pub on Broadwick Street "for being obscene".

The pair said they were kissing but it "wasn't anything indecent".

However, Dennis Griffiths, ex-president of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, has said: "If he doesn't like the house rules, don't use the pub."

Mr Williams wrote about the incident on Twitter, the story was picked up by the gay press, and a protest was swiftly organised on social networking site Facebook.

By Friday afternoon, more than 700 people said they would attend a "kiss-in" at the bar in response to the alleged actions.

But early on Friday evening, their plans were scuppered. The pub locked its doors.

However, that didn't deter hundreds of protesters gathering outside the venue just before 1900 BST.

It was a cheerful atmosphere, lips nervously poised, and after a countdown the kissing commenced.

So on a weekend billed for its marathon, would Friday night be remembered as more of a snogathon?

Far from it; the kissing was brief and involved gay couples and heterosexual couples. It was met with cheers of approval from onlookers.

A rainbow flag was raised above the pub, as Jonathan and James appeared at the door. But this time they chose not to kiss.

Mr Williams said he didn't make a stand out of choice.

"It was circumstance. But I had a platform. I should take it," he said.

"I hope people will at least consider that everyone has feelings and you have a right to do, within reason, whatever you want in public, if it's affectionate and loving. The response is magnificent and overwhelming. You really can't do worse than this."

Mr Bull added: "I think the fact there are a significant number of straight people that are up in arms about it goes to show people don't find gay people offensive. A lot of my friends and strangers who are straight have been really supportive. We just weren't expecting it."

The pair's supporters socialised outside the closed pub for the next few hours.

Wendall Harris, 49, from east London, said: "Hundreds of people have shown they will not put up with this kind of treatment.”

By 2130 BST, a small group remained on the steps to the John Snow pub:

"It's time people stopped victimising us. We should be allowed to go out with our dates wherever we choose."

Protest organiser Paul Shetler was ecstatic about the turnout.

"It's about lip-balm, fresh-breath and kissing", he said.

"It's real shame people didn't stay for longer," said Gareth Rhys, 21, from Cambridge.

"But I'm glad the event was so gentle compared to some other recent protests".

The John Snow pub and Samuel Smith's brewery, which owns the central London venue, have not commented on the alleged incident.

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