Gay bar owner defends ‘straights only’ job advert

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The owner of a Manchester gay bar has defended a job advert asking for straight staff.

AXM Group, which owns gay venue AXM Bar on Canal Street, sent out an alert last week for flyering staff for another of its clubs, Downtown, which is a student venue.

The message, posted on Facebook on Friday, said: “Looking for flyerers/pr people for Downtown. Ideally 2 blokes/1 girl. Straight, Good looking, Outgoing etc. 20 hours per week, £6 an hour.”

While businesses can take steps to diversify their workplaces, such as a mostly-white company advertising jobs in ethnic minority media, it is generally against the law to specify employees’ sexual orientation.

The Equality Act allows discrimination where there is a ‘genuine, determining and proportionate’ reason for requiring the employee to be of a particular sexual orientation.

A reader who spotted the AXM advert said: “It just seems interesting that a sister company to one of Canal Street’s most successful bars would openly discriminate against gay people.”

In response, Haydn Pope of AXM group said that the gay-owned company was looking for a couple of straight students to “complement” its mostly gay workforce.

He said: “Oh please, have you people really got nothing better to write about?

“AXM Group is a gay-owned, gay-run company that operates one of the busiest and best known gay venues in Manchester’s gay village, and the busiest and best known gay venue The Crown in Southport.

“Over the last few years we have supported, hosted or sponsored Sparkle, Manchester Pride, Red & Wild World Aids Day Campaign, Pride Games, The Spartans gay rugby team, The George House Trust, Gaydio and The LGF Foundation. Whilst other venues and businesses are closing down and going bankrupt we have just expanded again and this week opened our fourth venue, quite an achievement in these current economic times.

“Ninety per cent of my entire workforce are gay across the group, though I would add that we employ on ability and personality and not sexuality. Our brand new venue is situated in a hugely busy student area within Manchester, and as such I felt, and still feel, that a couple of straight students who are already established into that particular student group would be a perfect complement to our existing team of PR and flyerers. Makes perfect sense as I’m sure you’ll agree.

“To even suggest that AXM is homophobic in any way shape or form is frankly ridiculous and insulting.”