Montreal gay bar under fire for barring women
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2007 7:44PM EDT
A "truly manly meat market" in Montreal has been slapped with a human rights complaint for barring women from the premises.
Bar Le Stud -- it offers the above description in an online Yellow Pages ad -- has operated in Montreal's gay village for the past 11 years.
Audrey Vachon recently went there with her father Gilles and sat down on the patio with him for a drink. A bar staffer told him that women weren't allowed, not even on the patio.
"On the spot I didn't believe it, I thought it was a bad joke," Audrey told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "I didn't say a word until I'd left. I was too shocked. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, I felt guilty that I'd even gone there, like I'd done something wrong."
Vachon said it's the first time she's been asked to leave someplace because she's a woman. She has filed a complaint with Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal.
Jean-Marc Cardinal, a gay man who works next to the bar, was okay with the policy.
"We need our place," he told CTV Montreal. "Like women have their gyms, places were guys are not allowed."
At the same time, he thought the gay community itself needed to open up. "We need to grow up. As people accept gay people, gay people should be more open now that they are accepted."
A spokesperson with Montreal's Gay Chamber of Commerce said Le Stud may have made an error and that the group wants Quebec's Charter of Rights respected.
Like Cardinal, the chamber's Hans Janiak understood the desire by some gay men for a space to call their own.
"We're trying to blur the lines. But there are, however, some remnants, I would say places from the past, who don't exactly feel comfortable around straight people because they were discriminated against for --- I don't know how many years," he said.
Peter Sergakis, who owns a bar in the village and heads a provincial association of bar owners, thought Le Stud had to open up.
"This should not be happening, it's like going back 20 years ago when the gays were intimidated in straight bars," he said. "I'm sure the owner is going to change the habits. This is not acceptable in 2007."
Bar Le Stud's policy could cost it money. The Quebec human rights tribunal awarded two black men $16,000 they were refused entry to a bar in 2003 because of their skin colour.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Tanya Krywiak and files from The Canadian Press