Montreal Gazette

Le Stud mustn’t bar women

“Le Stud’s reg­u­lar pa­trons are more com­fort­able with an all-male clien­tele. But frankly, who cares?”

- Sexism · Society · Discrimination · LGBT Rights · Gays · Human Rights · LGBT · Montreal · Quebec · National Human Rights Commission (Mexico) · Australia · Toronto

You

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.

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