Amid mounting anger, a popular Durban bar has been accused of allowing its staff to routinely discriminate against members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Bouncers of the Berlin Bar and Restaurant in the suburb of Glenwood are alleged to have repeatedly refused entry to LGBTIQ+ patrons or asked them to leave because they are queer.
Commenting on a petition demanding that the bar’s staff end their discriminatory behaviour, one patron wrote: “I was once a victim of being kicked out at Berlin for wearing a dress and the bouncers were very rude to me when they did and when I explained to them I’m trans they didn’t even want to listen.”
Another customer said: “I have been a victim, together with my friends and other people I know. The bouncers are not only homophobic but they are also transphobic as well!”
After members of the LGBTIQ+ community threatened to stage a protest outside the establishment, Berlin Bar published a statement on its Facebook page in a bid to put an end to the furore.
The management said it “takes these allegations very seriously and strongly condemns such behaviour as it has no place in our establishment or anywhere in society.”
The venue also called on anyone who was a victim of discriminatory behaviour by its staff “to come forward with information so that we can investigate and act if need be.”
Berlin Bar further promised to “enhance our efforts to enforce measures to protect the rights and dignity of all customers and visitors.”
Some, however, believe the statement didn’t go far enough and that the bar failed to appropriately apologise and take ownership of the problem.
On Tuesday, local DA Councillor Sakhile Mngadi condemned the bar staff’s allegedly queerphobic actions and said that “the DA believes that all people are equal and should be treated as such”.
“We will be engaging business stakeholders in the area including the Business Forum and LGBT organisations to begin a series of sensitisation training and educational programs to ensure all businesses become safe and welcoming spaces for all people, including the LGBT+ community,” said Mngadi.
He also urged the SAPS “to play a bigger role in ensuring marginalised groups have better access to law enforcement and that police stations and police officers are better equipped at handling issues of this nature.”
The Foundation for Human Rights encouraged anyone who experienced or witnessed discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people by the bar’s staff to report the incident to the police and the South African Human Rights Commission.
“Businesses have a responsibility to create a safe environment for their customers and employees, and must ensure that no person on their premises [unfairly] discriminates or threatens any other person,” said the organisation.