Last month, The Morning Advertiser reported about Rebekah Wershbale who was ejected from the Fiveclouds Tap & Bottle in Macclesfield, Cheshire, for wearing a black T-shirt branded with the slogan: ‘Woman: human female’.
Wershbale, a loyal customer at the pub for years, was told she was “no longer welcome” for bearing a T-shirt reading the dictionary definition.
‘It’s political correctness gone mad’ seems to be one of the modern age’s most often repeated phrases – but has it gone too far?
Eamonn Doran, licensee at the Dovecote in Chingford, north-east London, certainly believes so.
“Someone will always get offended by something,” exclaimed Doran.
“I don’t intentionally upset anyone, but why should we walk on egg shells in case we upset someone?
“Personally, I wouldn’t bar someone if they wore a T-shirt bearing a dictionary definition.
“It’s like someone walking into a pub wearing a Union Jack T-shirt and me throwing that person out in case it offends someone – it’s total madness.”
Andy Grimsey, a solicitor at Poppleston Allen, argued that licensees must remember their legal duties, one of which is not to discriminate against someone because of, for example, age, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.
“A licensee generally has the right to refuse entry or ask someone to leave their pub as long as this doesn't breach equality legislation,” he explained.
“Under the Licensing Act, a licensee must always promote the licensing objectives, including the prevention of crime and disorder and prevention of public nuisance.
“If a customer's behaviour is causing or likely to cause antisocial behaviour, noise nuisance or possibly even violence, then these would be good grounds to require that customer to leave.”
Importance of safety
Echoing Grimsey’s thoughts was Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.
“It’s important that pubs create a safe and relaxing atmosphere that is welcoming for everyone,” said Simmonds.
“The Equality Act makes it clear that people have a right to be protected from abuse based on certain characteristics but within this framework, ultimately, it is the decision of the licensee to ensure that the balance is right in his or her pub.”