Vito Marzano, in and out of drag (Facebook)

It would seem odd for an LGBT venue to deny entry to members of the LGBT community, but that’s what happened in the US city of Denver.

There, a gay bar for ‘bears’ has lost the first round in a dispute over its policy of barring effeminate men or men dressed in drag.

Vito Marzano, a 27-year-old gay man, claims that he was last year refused entry by a bouncer at the Denver Wrangler bar because he was dressed in drag after attending a fundraiser.

He laid a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and launched a boycott of the venue because he believes that its door policy discriminates against gender non-confirming people.

The bar’s management has denied that it is discriminatory and claims that it won’t grant entry to people who appear a different sex to what is on their identification, such as a driver’s license, so as not to violate the state’s liquor laws. The bar said that this is what happened with Marzano.

DORA didn’t buy this argument and, after almost a year, issued a ruling that “there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the circumstance of the denial [of service] raise a reasonable inference of unlawful discrimination…”

It also ordered mandatory mediation for the two parties to come to a resolution.

The ruling noted that the bar’s dress code states: “No high heeled shoes, no wigs or appearance altering make-up,” and “no strong perfume.”

On its Facebook page, the boycott group said that its members could “could not be more thrilled” with the determination.

“This decision helps to protect everyone in the State of Colorado who is gender non-conforming in any capacity from discrimination in places of public accommodation.” commented the group.

“The Boycott will continue its fight against the Wrangler until all of our trans, gender nonconforming, and effeminate family members are no longer mistreated, excluded, or abused by the Wrangler staff,” it said.

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