PDA Policy Leads to Backlash

A Douglas bar’s decision to ban PDAs has led to a major backlash, particularly from the island’s LGBT+ community as it appears to have suggested they are doing it to ‘disrupt’ its straight clientele. 

Guys and Dolls said it has introduced the policy as PDAs were being used to ‘undermine our community based function’.

The original post and subsequent comments from the bar have been heavily criticised with some members of the island’s LGBT+ community and others labelling the management’s actions as ‘homophobic’.

The Post

The actual post on the bar’s Facebook page said: ‘We are very pleased to welcome our new staff members and will now resume taking bookings.

‘All staff are now aware of our PDA (public displays of affection) policy and why we apply it. Also the manor it’s being used to undermine our community based function.

‘Any further attempts to deliberately provoke it will be regarded as antisocial behavior aimed directly to disrupt our straight clientele, many of whom have family members who are from LGBT+ groups.

‘We all support this approach and will enforce it. Welcome to equal rights and 2021.’

The Reaction

This new position has been far from well received by many of the people who have commented on the page since the post was made. One woman said: ‘What exactly is this PDA policy? I personally don’t care if I see 2 people kissing in a bar, none of my business as long as nobody is trying to kiss me (except my partner of course).’

In response the bar’s page said ‘we don’t care either unless it’s designed to provoke which is unfortunately happening frequently’. However it didn’t give details as to exactly how and who this action had been provoking.

Plenty of other comments from a variety of people criticised the bar’s decision and attitude towards people who have complained. One commentor said that the bar ‘having an anti same sex couples kissing policy in a venue is blatant homophobia’. 

Alan Shea, who famously protested Tynwald for equal rights, commented on the post with what appeared to be a thinly veiled criticism of the management and a push towards a new pop up LGBTQ+ event starting soon.

Alan said: ‘I hope you don’t mind me posting this Richard [who runs G&Ds] but least this good pop up disco will show us all how to behave correctly. Sugar Walls [look it up on Facebook] is a brand new pop-up LGBTQ+ disco!’

The bar replied: ‘Not at all Alan, none of this is about actual LGBT issues, it’s about trying to overthrow the venue to make it exclusively gay.

‘It’ll never happen, the PDA policy is just the first trap, many more await. Personally I’ll never serve as a licensee for people prepared to behave like this, ever!’

A further comment from G&Ds said: ‘The people above seem to think than can gain something lost ten years ago by closing a public service that exists to serve local families with a function room for all entertaining Hen parties, birthday bashes and retirement groups etc.. why? 

‘Absolutely none of our staff are homophobic in any way.

‘Our public sessions are open to all regardless of sexuality as is the law.

‘Accusing us of homophobia is ridiculous.’

In a separate comment the bar said it had banned PDAs in all forms from all people.

The PDA Policy 

The bar then posted another statement, which it was in response to questions about its PDA policy.

It reads: ‘Our venue is fully inclusive, we welcome all, LGBT+, straight or of any ethnicity. Our target clientele is the more mature audience who enjoy older music but the door is open to all.

‘We have high standards of public behavior in keeping with our type of license. This includes regulating behavior that would be considered by other guests as socially unacceptable. In a mixed environment this sometimes gets confused as being unfair when it isn’t. Our rules apply to all regardless of sexuality etc.

‘A simple kiss between two people wouldn’t cause any issue, it happens frequently. However when things get a little more heated it’s a different story and as in any public venue a request to cool it down will be made. This is usually all that happens. If after warning it continues further action may result. It doesn’t matter if it’s two males, two females or a male and a female, it’s something that applies to all.

‘On some occasions we have encountered deliberately staged acts in prominent places, these are treated in the same manner. We will be very happy to explain the policy to any authority who approaches for review, and will happily cooperate fully. Much of the misunderstanding here comes from the name many remember from the previous administration, the “no kissing rule”, it isn’t what it seems, we are doing nothing out of the ordinary.’

Isle of Pride

The latest statement from Guys and Dolls has been with further condemnation on its Facebook page and from Isle of Pride.

The charity said in a statement that Guys and Dolls’ posts showed ‘that while we may have come a long way on the journey to equality, there is still more work to do’.

It added: ‘The ability to hold hands and kiss your partner in public is not restricted in law nor to being a specific gender or sexual orientation.

Isle of Pride representative, Kara Varetto, who themself has been asked to stop kissing their girlfriend, added: ‘I am disappointed to see a local bar persisting with the suggestion that seeing same sex couples kissing in public is offensive to heterosexual clientele. All venues should focus on stamping out discrimination in all its forms, and Isle of Pride are working on an awareness and training programme to support venues that we hope will be available towards the end of this year.’

Isle of Pride also extended thanks to Mad Jacks and Peggy’s for helping them to develop their awareness and training programme.

The charity added: ‘We recognise that most island venues understand their commitments to ending all forms of discrimination on the Isle of Man through our collective work on the road to equality.  Isle of Pride would encourage any businesses wishing to improve their awareness and knowledge of equality and diversity through training to get in touch at info@isleofpride.com.’

What Now?

Despite the bar outright refuting the suggestions that is in any way homophobic, it has done little to calm the anger of the island’s Facebookers. 

Gef contacted Guys and Dolls for comment about the situation on Monday afternoon, an offer which remains open, but at the time of publication, we have not received any reply. 

You can read the full post and comments for yourself here.

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