Police Commissioner sides with bigots against gay sauna
Homophobes in the UK town of Luton found an ally in Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, above, who supported a ‘hateful’ campaign to prevent a gay sauna, close to a mosque, from gaining a sex establishment licence.
Holloway, according to this Luton Herald & Post report, was one of many who lobbied Luton council to refuse the licence to the Greenhouse Health Club after being approached by a member of a “very significant Luton mosque”.
Luton, with a Muslim population of about 50,000, has long been regarded as a “hotbed” of Islamic extremism.
The newly-elected Holloway wrote in a letter to the council:
Luton Borough Council is usually particularly aware of matters of cultural sensitivity.
I trust therefore that you will fully understand that, given the large and devout Muslim population in this area of the borough, there is naturally a high level of religious and cultural opposition to such a business among these residents which needs to be respected, in my view.
The PCC, who said that the application had caused “widespread offence and very deep concern”, added her concerns that if Greenhouse was handed the licence:
A number of potential policing issues may arise.
Greenhouse, which has been running for more than 18 years, attempted to gain the licence so that it can sell sex toys and show adult films within its premises on Crawley Road, Luton.
But after more than 430 Bury Park residents signed a petition to counter the proposal the sauna decided to withdraw its application.
One of those who signed the petition claimed that Greenhouse:
Will bring unpleasant diseases to our communities.
Another slammed the owner for having “no shame” and attempting to expand the business with something “so disgusting near and around holy surroundings.”
Others labelled the sauna “immoral”, “crazy” and “dangerous for our children”.
One of the petition’s signatories wrote that homosexuality stems from “brain diseases/malfunction” and “incorrect thinking”.
The comments were slammed by LGBT rights charity Stonewall, which told the Herald & Post that the language used was:
homophobic and hateful. These attitudes can be extremely damaging and can alienate and ostracise people. We hope that this is something that the local authorities in Luton hope to solve as soon as possible so that all LGBT locals feel able to be themselves and are accepted without exception.
Luton Borough Council says that in addition to the petition, it received 103 objection notices which cited concerns over “cultural sensitivity”, the sauna’s “proximity to places of worship” and worries “about the number of families with young children living nearby.”
But prior to the withdrawal of the application Bedfordshire Police told the newspaper that it had no objections to the proposal and that in the last year just two crimes have been reported at the sauna.
One was a report of theft and the other was of alleged domestic violence.
In a letter PC Esther Read told the council:
We anticipate that they will continue to operate in a professional manner and liaise with the police and other responsible authorities when required, as they have in previous years.
Holloway asserted that she did not know Greenhouse had been targeted with homophobic comments.
I would never support any homophobic literature and I had no sight of any such material. I agreed to represent residents in Biscot as they felt incredibly strongly about it. I would have taken the exact same stance if it had been a heterosexual establishment.
I think this is also a win for the wider gay community as this establishment is not representative of them as a whole.
Hat tip: David McKeegan