Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Petition Delivered to the Soho "Gay Kiss" Pub

A petition gathering over 1000 signatures was delivered today to the Soho pub that found itself at the centre of an international media storm last month.

The 57 page petition before it was delivered to the pub (Picture by me).

On the evening of Wednesday 13 April 2011, Jonathan Williams, 26, and James Bull, 23, were asked to leave the John Snow public house for kissing while on their first date. A member of staff allegedly described the couple’s behaviour as "obscene" and evicted them from the establishment.

Despite several attempts by journalists at contacting the management of the John Snow, as well as the Samuel Smith Old Brewery, which owns the pub, neither the pub nor the brewer released any comment, statement or apology.

In an attempt to get the management of the pub to air their side of the story and to create a dialogue, a group of activists who had organised two successful kiss-in events outside the pub decided to write an open letter.

The letter demanded that the John Snow management, and/or the Samuel Smith Old Brewery issue a statement:

"1/ specifying exactly why Mr. Jonathan Williams and Mr. James Bull were asked to leave the John Snow public house on the 13 April 2011.

2/ clearly stating the venue and company's compliance with and commitment to the Equality Act of 2010.

3/ officially apologising to Mr. Jonathan Williams and Mr. James Bull."

Having gathered 1087 signatures of support after it was placed on a petition website, the letter was symbolically delivered at the pub on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

A member of staff who did not identify himself received the petition and agreed to a meeting on Wednesday 18th in the morning.

After the event, Paul Shetler, who organised the first Kiss-in on 15 April, said: "Tonight the management of the John Snow Pub heard voices from London, the UK and around the world emphatically stating that affection, whichever form it takes, is something positive that should be celebrated and not repressed."

"We all want to put this behind us but it was important for us to demand the respect we are owed as human beings. Nothing more, nothing less. The John Snow management must take responsibility for their action and break the silence they have kept so far."

The people behind the petition are in the process of planning further direct action events over the summer to promote LGBT visibility and fight homophobia in fun and unexpected ways. They invite people to join a Facebook group to be kept informed of what will happen.

UPDATE (18 May 2011 - 11.30)
The meeting with the person we saw last night (accompanied with another man and a woman) has now taken place outside the John Snow. The meeting was Was civil throughout. The man advised us that he can not comment at the moment because of the ongoing police investigation. The pub's CCTV tapes have been given to the police.
The results of the investigation are apparently expected in two weeks. A new meeting has been agreed for that time.

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