Canterbury gay bar owner ‘threatened’ with anti-gay arson attacks and city council licence withdrawals

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The owner of a gay bar in Canterbury has recently claimed to have been target of an onslaught of anti-gay threats and visitors, including one vicar who offered to “cleanse” his customers of their homosexuality, and another man who threatened to burn down the building.

According to KentOnline, Tony Butcher, who owns the Limes Lounge in Rosemary Lane, has said he has faced homophobic visitors ever since he first opened six months ago.

He said: “It was our first Sunday when in came this chap in his 30s wearing a dog collar who suggested we should come to his church where he could cleanse us.

“I have no idea which church he was from and we just laughed it off. But it seems to have set the tone of the reaction to the venue which some people clearly don’t like.

“We had one angry bloke threaten to burn us down and now are being harassed by the city council, who are threatening to withdraw our licence because of complaints about noise.”

He added: “We have tried everything to be good neighbours but just feel like we are constantly being hounded and targeted.

“It has got to the stage where I think it can only be because of what we are, and some people don’t like it.”

However, Canterbury City Council assistant director Larissa Reed has denied the authority was being anti-gay, saying it had a duty to investigate noise complaints.

She said: “We absolutely refute any suggestion of homophobia on our part or that the council has an agenda against this premises.

“We simply have a duty to investigate noise complaints of this nature. The council has received three complaints from different residents regarding the Limes Lounge since October 2013 when the current landlord took over.

“The complaints all relate to noise outside and also loud music from inside the pub. All complainants have submitted evidence that indicates there are issues of noise at certain times.”

She added: “Our noise officer has been working hard with all parties concerned, including the landlord of the pub, to try and reach an amicable resolution, and this is continuing.

“We would also stress that prior to the current landlord taking over, complaints were also received in 2013 regarding similar issues with the previous landlord.”

Mr Butcher said: “There have been three complaints about noise which we had done everything we can to address.

“I walk about the city and hear music blaring from pubs, but I would say we are one of the quietest and we never have any trouble.”

Not the first time the city council has been accused of homophobia, it also once came under fire from Pride in Canterbury for not supporting gay activities in the district.