Gay group wearing ‘lesbians are women’ t-shirts are removed by police from the National Theatre bar after a transgender staff member was offended by their views
- The bitter episode took place in theatre’s Green Room bar on Friday evening
- Several members of the group were wearing shirts with the definition of lesbian
- Theatre said the women were ‘disruptive’ and had banned campaign material
The National Theatre has become embroiled in a bitter war of words with a group of lesbian women, after allegedly refusing to serve them drinks because a trans staff member was offended by their views.
The episode took place in theatre’s Green Room bar in the run up to London Pride, and resulted in the police being called and asking the 15 women to leave.
One of the women, Natash Read, wrote on Facebook: ‘The refusal followed a conversation with some of the lesbians in the group who were wearing t-shirts with the dictionary definition of lesbian.
‘The upshot was that the police were called to remove a bunch of sober, peaceful women, mostly lesbians for no reason other than responding to a question from a member of staff with an answer that did not align with her political beliefs, or indeed with facts, such as the fact that women don’t have penises.’
The t-shirts appear to be an attempt to make a distinction between trans women and lesbian women and represent a complex argument in the LGBT community.
The controversial t-shirts read: ‘Lesbian: a woman who loves other women’, a member of the activism group, who said they just sat down for a drink, is pictured in the Green Room bar
Natasha also explained that the member of staff initiated the conversation, and asked if any of the women had been involved in the ‘get the L out’ action at Pride the previous year.
The movement of lesbians and feminists is opposed to what they described as the ‘increasingly anti-lesbian and misogynistic LGBT movement and the erasure of lesbians’, and has been accused of being transphobic.
Natasha continued: ‘When the answer was yes, she walked off saying she didn’t want anything to do with us, or similar.
‘It was after this that the decision was made to not serve anyone who was “part of the protest group”.’
Police were called to the Green Room bar and got into a dispute with the group of activists
The Get The L Out group states on its website that ‘new ‘queer’ LGBT politics coerces lesbians to accept the penis as a female organ, and promotes heterosexual intercourse between male and female as a form of lesbian sex.’
When the women refused to leave, police were called to The National Theatre.
A video captured by one of the party shows two police officers in a standoff with a group of around a dozen women, who appeared to be politely declining to leave the premises.
The National Theatre has hit back at the group’s claims, saying they didn’t give prior notice that they would be wearing campaign material, and added that they wouldn’t tolerate ‘disruptive behaviour’.
Two officers talk to the women. Some wore t-shirts with the definition of the word lesbian
On Friday night the theatre said on Twitter that it ‘respects and values our trans staff, company and audience members. As such, if the behaviour of visitors impinges on their ability to feel supported and safe, we will take action.’
Last night, Lisa Burger, the joint chief executive of the National Theatre, said in a longer statement that the women had provoked ‘a series of disturbances’ which ‘culminated in abusive behaviour towards our staff’.
She said witnesses corroborated this.
It is alleged that the women refused to put placards with controversial slogans out of sight, with messages such as ‘Lesbian visibility’, ‘Children need therapy not puberty blockers hormones and therapy’ and ‘Transing children is abuse.’
Lisa Burger added: ‘The clothing, gender or sexuality of the group was not a factor in the decision, which was reluctantly taken on the basis of the group’s behaviour and what was said.
‘The National Theatre must be an inclusive place for everyone, and that means asking visitors to conduct themselves in a way that respects that principle.’
The bitter episode took place in the National Theatre’s Green Room bar on Friday evening
Natasha Read said that her group weren’t disruptive and that the bar even served a man who was with them, but refused the women. He appeared in her live Facebook video and was not wearing the ‘lesbian’ t-shirt.
Ms Read alleged that action was taken simply because the staff member in question didn’t agree with the group’s views.
She said on Facebook: ‘The refusal followed a conversation with some of the lesbians in the group who were wearing t shirts with the dictionary definition of lesbian.’