Le Stud mustn’t bar women
“Le Stud’s regular patrons are more comfortable with an all-male clientele. But frankly, who cares?”
don’t have to be a genius to figure out Bar Le Stud is a gay hangout. With that name, in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village, and promoted as a truly “manly meat market,” the nature of the place is pretty evident.
This is not the kind of place you’d expect to find a 20-yearold heterosexual woman like Audrey Vachon. She says it was the attractively flowery terrasse that led her to take her father to Le Stud for a drink one sunny afternoon last week. We don’t know what Dad thought of the place, but we do know that before she could even order a cosmo, a waiter bounced Vachon because she is the wrong sex.
Le Stud’s owner, Michel Gadoury, managed to avoid laughing out loud when he argued, on Radio-Canada, that there’s proof his bar does not discriminate against women: It lets them in on Wednesdays.
It’s no doubt quite true – as Gadoury claims – that Le Stud’s regular patrons are more comfortable with an allmale clientele. But frankly, who cares?
There are probably lots of drinkers in Montreal who would be more comfortable if their favourite watering holes refused to serve some particular group or other: blacks, whites, Jews, even gays. But the law won’t let them, nor should it.
Le Stud has a licence to sell booze to adults. It can discriminate by establishing a dress code, for example, and it can certainly create an ambiance that’s designed to attract young gay men. But the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms is clear: No “distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.”
There are certainly other institutions that discriminate on the basis of sex. The Curves chain of gyms, for example, caters exclusively to women, as do some clubs featuring male strippers.
Perhaps when the Quebec Human Rights Commission hears Vachon’s case it will clarify the legality of such rules. We certainly hope it doesn’t do as a similar commission in Australia did recently and uphold the right of gay bars to exclude women and heterosexuals. (How would a bouncer check?)
Vachon’s choice of bar might have been eccentric, but that is neither here nor there.
Bernard Plante, the directorgeneral of the Gay Village’s economic development agency, got it right when he told a Toronto newspaper this:
“If a woman absolutely wants to go to a place where she’ll be surrounded by men who are only interested in other men, she should be allowed in.”
Listen up, Mr. Gadoury.