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tagged with: policy making
Mumbai, India
LESBIANS UNWELCOME IN MUMBAI CLUBS

in INDIA, 26/05/2005

Alleging discrimination, Shirin Merchant (name changed), says she was barred entry to Seven, a Bandra nightclub, because she is a lesbian.


She said that on May 18, Samson Stephen, the club’s general manager stopped her and three friends from entering. Shirin says she first went to the club — located on the sixth floor of Shoppers Stop — on May 12 with a group of lesbian friends.

She said she was seen kissing inside the club, which led the management to bar her entry.

UNRULY BEHAVIOUR

Says Stephen, “I do not remember the woman’s name. But yes, I have barred her from entering Seven; it’s a policy decision and not because she kissed a woman. I did not even know she was a lesbian.

“I have barred her from Seven because that evening she was behaving in an unruly manner and was inappropriately dressed.”

He, however, refused to specify what unruly behaviour or inappropriate dressing was and simply said, “I do not wish to go into the details, and I do not want to backbite. All I can say is that this is not discrimination, nor was it because she was kissing a woman.”

Shirin says she felt like an untouchable when she was barred entry, and on May 20, she and her friends went back to the club to demand an explanation from the management.

Said Samson, “they came here demanding an explanation and I told them nicely that all of them are welcome except Shirin, who has been permanently barred for her behaviour.”

“THE CITY IS WORSE THAN A VILLAGE”

Now, Aanchal Trust, a support group for women, which has lesbian members, has decided to fight for Shirin and take the matter to court if need be.

Says chairperson Geeta Kumana, “As a lesbian and an activist, this is the first time that I have seen such overt discrimination, though there are examples of subtle hostility. Mumbai is a metropolis, but when such things happen then I think this is what a village should be.

Aanchal has now spelt out its agenda, which is: To get the manager to explain Seven’s stand and outline the moral policy; to ask if it applies to all customers; to find out if they could allow Shirin into the club in the future.
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