Equality Court | Brakpan restaurant to stop ‘no gays allowed’ date nights


An Equality Court case has ended in victory for a lesbian woman who was banned from a Brakpan restaurant’s ‘straight couples only’ date night events.

In November last year, Mia Agrela (pictured) booked for the Lake Restaurant’s weekly date night evening with her partner. She was, however, informed in a follow up message that “no same sex couples” are allowed.

An outraged Agrela took the issue to social media after which she was threatened with legal action by the owners. She then filed a discrimination case in the Equality Court.

The two parties have now come to an agreement through the court, in which the restaurant will stop excluding same-sex couples from its events. The owners also agreed to apologise for their actions and to undergo sensitisation training.

On Thursday, the Lake Restaurant posted an apology on its Facebook page: “The Lake Restaurant hereby tenders a sincere apology to Ms Agrela for offending her and any other person who feels offended by the dispute.

“The owners of the Lake Restaurant will attend sensitisation training in respect of LGBTI rights and have agreed that Date Night events will from now on be open to any person regardless of their sexual orientation. The matter has been resolved.”

Establishments cannot turn away patrons for being LGBTI

Agrela told Mambaonline she was satisfied with the outcome and referred us to her lawyer, Tshego Phala, for further comment.

Phala said the agreement was a victory for LGBTI South Africans. “It shows others that if you are exclusionary or discriminatory that you will be held to account. It is a message to establishments that you cannot do this. This is a new democracy, we have the Equality Act and we won’t be silenced as a community.”

According to Phala, the mediated agreement, which was facilitated by the Commission for Gender Equality, included almost all that Agrela has claimed for, except for a financial settlement. Phala explained that, “The idea behind the Equality Act is that it is restorative before it is a punitive act.”

Earlier this year, Lake Restaurant co-owner Sammi-Jo Amiras argued that while lesbian and gay people were welcome to come any other time, she was entitled to have a stand-alone night exclusive to opposite sex couples.

The resolution of the matter is one of a growing number of Equality Court outcomes asserting that LGBTI people cannot be refused access to services and establishments.

In 2012, the Alberton Equality Court ordered the Sha-mani wedding venue to allow gay and lesbian patrons to use its venue for any purpose, including weddings.

In April 2015, the Equality Court in Cape Town also approved an agreement in which owners of guesthouses conceded that they could not use their religious beliefs to turn away LGBTI customers.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa has stated that while a restaurant has the right to refuse admission, it cannot do so “on any grounds on sex, gender, race, preferences or equalities that the Constitution refers to in South Africa”.

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