Climate of Homophobia: York students speak out on hate crimes

10176266_773487325997485_5955019646803815846_nTwo students were forced to leave a bar last weekend – for being GAY.

The couple were asked to leave cocktail retreat Bora Bora for kissing.

The couple, who wish to remain unnamed, were bullied for being ‘sexualised’ and were pushed to leave the bar.

The manager targeted the duo saying “he doesn’t want to bar homosexuals.”

But when he came back and was further questioned, the boss admitted, “It’s sexualised when two people of the same sex kiss, not romantic.”

One student said he was “furious and intimidated” with the incident.

He said: “I would never have expected something like this to happen in a bar in York. I was left feeling victimised
and angry.

“What concerns me is that the owner genuinely believed his views were acceptable and was in his right to impose them on us.”

A witness told Vision she was “sick to the bone” with the manager and claimed there were “lots of other couples

She said: “The boys I met were not doing anything outrageous in the slightest.

“They were being victimised due to their sexuality. The manager openly admitted that if it had been myself [sic] kissing a guy, there would have been no issue. I found this disgusting and I was extremely angry.”

Another witness also added: “I was with a female gay friend, yet when I asked whether I would get thrown out for kissing her, the manager said no.”

Bora Bora’s manager was unable to comment when contacted by Vision.


But it’s not the first time the bar has come under fire, with other students claiming the venue victimised them on the basis of their sexual preference.

A student claimed that he was forced to leave after briefly kissing his boyfriend.

He said: “It was not a particularly passionate kiss and we were dancing with a group of straight friends, but we were told to stop, as ‘we don’t allow things like that in this place, stop now.’”

The bar where the couple were thrown out
The bar where the couple were thrown out

But the hell seemed to continue with one third year student claiming she experienced sexual harassment by staff members.

She said: “The bartender who served me a cocktail at Bora Bora was lascivious and creepy, making untoward remarks about my appearance.

If this is okay and two guys kissing isn’t, I don’t want to spend any more time in Bora Bora.”

One second year gay student is scared the incident in Bora Bora is not a one-off, and shows a problem with York’s entire nightlife.

He said: “I was appalled by the views expressed by the owner and dread the idea of being cautious of my actions every time I’m on a night out, in case I’m threatened again. Needless to say I won’t be going back.”

Just over half  of students have experienced homophobia

The news follows a string of students crying out with similar cases in York.

York Vision conducted a survey confirming that just over half of LGBTQ students surveyed had experienced some sort of homophobia or sexual harassment when enjoying a night out at York.

One anonymous student told Vision: “I think York’s nightlife needs a bit of a wakeup call. Students have to understand that they shouldn’t be putting up with this blatant discrimination and these double standards.”

Students at a number of YUSU Club nights experienced harassment, at venues including Club Salvation and Kuda Night Club.

One student said: “I was ‘getting off’ with this guy and a girl was pointing at us, giving us dirty looks and muttering stuff to her boyfriend about us being disgusting.”

Another told Vision: “I was in Kuda and I had to break up a fight between some friends and a group of men. One guy called me a “fat dyke” for the pleasure.”

It seems incidents ranged further afield, with one student claiming: “I got gay-bashed outside Efe’s because some douche called me ‘qu*er’ and I started antagonising him. It did not end well.” Another student stated that they receive a lot of “slurs like “f*gg*t” on nights out.

The climate of homophobia has triggered a number of outcries from student reps across the uni. The Students’ Union LGBTQ Officer, Maddie Boden, urged students to avoid unfriendly bars. She stressed “the importance of feeling safe while in bars and clubs in York.”

She added: “If you feel harassed or threatened because of your sexuality or gender identity, call the police. No matter how big or small the incident is, it is still a hate crime.”

YUSU Welfare and Community Officer, George Offer, said: “All incidences of homophobia on campus or in the city are unacceptable and will be taken very seriously by North Yorkshire Police who are tough on hate crime.

“If you ever experience homophobia on a night out, you can report it directly to the Council, or through Yorkshire MESMAC, who can provide support and guidance through the process.”

YUSU President Kallum Taylor added: “This is obviously a cause for concern. We absolutely will not tolerate it and expect our partners to be in line with that.”

Tara Annison, Goodricke College Chair, also condemned Bora Bora: “I can’t believe that! What a backward establishment!

“It’s disgusting; we’re in the 21st Century now. People are free to love who they want; gender, race or religion should no longer be boundaries!”

Annison also confirmed that the possibility of a kiss-in “would be amazing!”: “I’m going to go in there with all my female friends and we’ll start getting off and see what they say!”

Annison confirmed the possibility of a kiss-in 'would be amazing!'
Annison confirmed the possibility of a kiss-in ‘would be amazing!’

She added: “We’re spearheading the Goodricke Access campaign to help improve disabled access into clubs, so I don’t see why we can’t make clubs accessible to everyone in terms of love.”

‘It’s absolutely disgraceful’

But it’s not only students that are getting involved. Tokyo Manager Adele Lord told Vision: “These people shouldn’t be allowed in our venues: it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

Lord also reminded students that there was a direct link to her if customers wanted to report an incident.

“Obviously the best thing to do is to come and say it straight away, and try and find out who they are.”

“Even if they don’t feel comfortable to come and speak to me on the night when I’m there, just email me and let me know about it straight away so I can deal with it and get descriptions of people.”

She added: “We do operate via York Pubwatch, a scheme across the city, and we meet at least once every other month. People we don’t want in our pubs and clubs for whatever reason – for violence or hate crime or aggression toward our staff – we take those in to the Pubwatch and it votes on whether to bar those people from our venues, and in fact… if someone acted like that in Revolution we’d ban them in the whole city. It’s very important that it’s brought to our attention.”

If anybody has suffered from a similar incident, students are reminded to contact North Yorkshire Police and report any acts of harassment as a hate crime on 999. You can also use the YUSU ‘call it in’ service by emailing [email protected]


27 thoughts on “Climate of Homophobia: York students speak out on hate crimes

  1. @Perturbed Lesbian, you pretty much just said exactly how I feel in reaction to Tara Annison’s comments. I would also like to add that kissing someone of the same sex or gender isn’t a statement or part of one of Annison’s campaigns.

    @K, you can’t just silence people’s real life experiences like that. If several people say they feel discriminated against, intimidated and upset you can’t just tell them they’re wrong and assume you know better. You’re trivialising people’s real experiences.

    @GA, I disagree with you about the use of the emergency services number. Being a victim of homophobia can be very intimidating and scary, and you don’t always know if it could turn violent. If you call 999, the emergency they will decide what priority to give the incident, not you. Telling people they shouldn’t call 999 when they don’t feel safe could make the problem worse and make people feel very isolated.

  2. @RM I extend my sincere apologies to you that my post has made you feel I undermined the seriousness of homophobic crimes. I was trying to advertise the availability of another number (which is also able to immediately assess the seriousness and dispatch emergency services where appropriate!) which people may wish to use say, the morning after the crime took place or any other time after an incident that victims feel able to. I would like to assure you, and other people who read my comment and felt isolated, that I was in no way trying to disregard other people’s experiences and I was only wishing to promote the range of numbers available and their different purposes.

  3. York does still have some way to go. Can I encourage all students (LGBTQ and allies) who feel strongly about wanting the city to be a safe space for all LGBTQ people, to get involved in York Pride. It is taking place on 21st June this year – deliberately arranged to fall in term time. There will be a parade through the centre of York setting off from the Minster around midday (if the same as last year), and walking to the Little Knavesmire, where there is an all-afternoon festival.

    Prof Dave Smith, Chemistry.

  4. Thank goodness somebody still stands up against this surge of homosexual propaganda – it is the owners right to ask anyone he does not want on his premises to leave. It doesn’t matter if the reason is politically correct or not.

  5. Actually, Conservative, it is against the law to refuse to provide services to people purely on the grounds of their sexuality – the owner has no right to discriminate. You can refuse to serve people based on their behaviour, but only if you can demonstrate that the ‘standards of behaviour’ you demand are non-discriminatory.

    As for a ‘homosexual propaganda’, I doubt that you would describe an article about racism in York as ‘black propaganda’, so it is equally inappropriate to use that kind of language here.

    We can all stop discussing the issue when LGBTQ people in York are not scared to walk down the street hand-in-hand, kiss in public or mention to their employer/supervisor that they are gay without danger of abuse or assault. We are not there yet – even with all the progress that has been made.

  6. It is not “homophobia”, but HETEROPHILIA that prevails, not just in York but on the entire planet. It has been ever thus since billions of years of evolution led to the dichotomy of the two genders.

    Homosexuals are the only group on the planet who define themselves by a practice that leads to biological self-extinction. The heterosexual (heterophile) community has a HUMAN RIGHT to have an opinion about homosexuals, irrespective if that opinion is not in agreement with the ‘gay-supremacist’ agenda.

  7. Well Mike, I guess we can argue the toss about whether the heterosexual population of planet Earth are pursuing a selfish agenda of overpopulation, famine, water shortages and self-extinction; but the real issue here is your objection to LGBT people asserting theirrights to human dignity, self respect and non discrimination. If that is ‘heterophobia’then I guess that makes me ‘heterophobic. Which is strange, because some of my best friends are straight…

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