Gay kiss complaint going to Human Rights Commission

By Hayden Donnell

Rebekah Galbraith (inset) said she was kicked out of Public in Wellington after kissing her girlfriend goodbye. Photo / Supplied
Rebekah Galbraith (inset) said she was kicked out of Public in Wellington after kissing her girlfriend goodbye. Photo / Supplied

A lesbian couple is complaining to the Human Rights Commission after allegedly being kicked out of a Wellington bar for kissing.

But the bar's owner is rejecting claims her staff member discriminated against the couple, saying their removal for "inappropriate behaviour" had nothing to do with their sexuality.

In an open letter on her Facebook page, Rebekah Galbraith said she was kicked out of Public, on Courtenay Place, at about 2:50am on Sunday when a male staff member spotted her kissing her girlfriend goodbye.

Ms Galbraith said the man walked over and told them they would need to leave immediately, justifying the move as an order from his bosses.

"He excluded us on the basis of our sexuality, I truly believe that.

"I would really like an apology. I think I deserve that and I think my girlfriend deserves that. We don't deserve to be discriminated against."

Ms Galbraith said the man only approached after a group of people she and her girlfriend had been with had left.

He would not justify making them leave - only giving a repeated command; 'you need to leave, both of you now', she said.

Once they were outside on Courtenay Place, she accused him of targeting her because she was gay.

"He agreed, and shrugged, and said 'it's not my place', and with a smirk, claimed he 'wished it could be different'.

"So make it different. How dare you make us feel marginalised in a bar, somewhere we consider to be open and accepting."

Ms Galbraith said she would be making a complaint over her "appalling" treatment to the Human Rights Commission.

Her Facebook letter had already been 'liked' more than 500 times.

"We were by ourselves as our friends had left, and defenseless. Your management only approached us when we were alone and had no witnesses. You targeted us, you humiliated us without reason, and you kicked us onto Courtenay Place. We were not heavily intoxicated, we were not unruly, we were not causing trouble. I just kissed her."

Public owner Gina Mills said her staff member did not discriminate against the couple because of their sexuality.

She said Ms Galbraith and Ms Leadbeater were behaving inappropriately.

They were asked to leave after they became aggressive at being told to "tone it down", she said.

"It was absolutely irrelevant, their sexuality. Actually I feel discriminated against.

"Now I'm being called anti-gay, that I'm discriminating. It's become personal and it's absolutely wrong."

Ms Mills would not reveal any details about the couple's inappropriate behaviour.

However, she said the couple would have been told to leave whether they were heterosexual or homosexual.

The experienced staff member who ordered Ms Galbraith and Ms Leadbeater out of the bar was "shocked" at allegations he was a homophobe, she said.

"I've known this person for 20 years. I believe he did the right thing by my business... I would be mortified if anybody was discriminated against coming into my business. We've got a good name and my family have been in hospitality for 35 years. We behaved appropriately and they behaved inappropriately."

Ms Mills said she was happy to set up a meeting to discussing Ms Galbraith's allegations.

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