Punch apologises after homophobia row

By Matt Eley Matt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Labour party Public house

Punch Taverns has offered an "unreserved apology" after accusations of homophobia were levelled at staff at one of its London pubs. Around 100...

Punch Taverns has offered an "unreserved apology" after accusations of homophobia were levelled at staff at one of its London pubs.

Around 100 members of the Labour Party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group were refused service at the Greencoat Boy in Westminster on Saturday.

The incident stemmed from a customer taking offence at an LGBT banner.

Within 10 minutes of the row starting it became a top trending topic on social networking site Twitter.

The Publican ​has also been inundated with letters LGBT members who are furious about the incident.

Punch Taverns, which owns about 7,500 pubs, has apologised and described the situation as a "one off incident".

A statement from the company said: "Punch Taverns seeks to provide open and welcoming venues to everyone.

"We are shocked and saddened that the Labour LGBT did not experience this at the Greencoat Boy on Saturday night and apologise unreservedly.

"Across our estate, diversity and inclusion are a core part of our ethics and are clearly referenced in our recruitment process, our equal opportunities policy and training.

"We would like to stress that this is an isolated incident; we have a good track record on equal opportunities and we do not tolerate homophobia in our pubs, whether from guests to other guests, or involving our employees."

It added that an investigation was under way and that the deputy general manager of the pub will not be on site until it is concluded.

"We are co-operating fully with the police and plan to meet with the LGBT Labour Group early next week to discuss how we can work together to further improve our policies and procedures," the statement continued.

"In addition, we have contacted all of our general managers and pub teams to remind them of our equal opportunity policy and will seek to work with external partners to further enhance our training to ensure that inclusion remains at the heart of it."

James Asser, co-chairman of LGBT Labour, said: "Thanks to 13 years of a Labour government it is now illegal to be turned away from a bar because of your sexuality. The fact that our members were on the receiving end of homophobia is just wrong.

"We were surprised by the shocking action of the Greencoat Boy public house management. Turning people away for being gay is outrageous - he should have been defending his customers from homophobia."

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