More than half of London’s LGBT venues have closed in a decade, new research has found.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for urgent action over the closures – with a string of new measures to be enacted.
The findings come as more than a million people are set to take part in the Pride in London festival, the UK’s biggest LGBT event.
According to a report by UCL Urban Laboratory, the number of designated LGBT venues has fallen from 127 venues in 2006, to just 53 in 2017.
The report found that the 58% drop was rarely due to a lack of demand, but external pressures – such as large-scale developments, a lack of safeguarding in the planning system and the sale and change of use of property by landlords.
80% of LGBT venues in Islington – one of London’s most expensive boroughs – have shut their doors in a decade.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has set out plans for an annual audit to track nightlife numbers and turnaround the declining number of gay bars.
London’s Night Tsar, Amy Lamé, has pledged to set up an LGBT Venues Charter working with venues, developers, pub companies and property owners.
She has also pledged to step in to mediate between parties in a bid to save gay venues facing closure.
Sadiq Khan said: “I hold LGBT+ venues in very high regard and have made it clear that protecting them is an integral part of my plans to grow London’s night-time economy and culture.
“The importance of LGBT+ venues cannot be overstated in the role they play in helping members of an often vulnerable community to take pride in their identity, and enriching London as a whole.
“These shocking figures show that more than half of the capital’s LGBT+ venues have closed down in the last decade and urgent action needs to be taken.
“I want London’s LGBT+ community to feel truly valued, happy and safe in our great city and know how important these spaces are to its wellbeing.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for LGBT+ venues to exist, and as difficult as possible for them to close.
“That is why I called for an annual audit of LGBT+ venues and, together with my Night Czar Amy Lamé, we will do all we can to halt the closures of these precious venues and encourage others to open.”
LGBT campaign groups Stonewall, Pride in London, UK Black Pride and Queer Spaces Network have welcomed proposals.
Molly Moggs, the long-running Soho cabaret bar, is the first to sign-up to the new LGBT charter after recently re-opening its doors.
Amy Lamé said: “The findings of today’s report are alarming but we are already taking action at City Hall to step in whenever we hear a venue is in trouble.
“I’m proud that we have been able to help Molly Moggs, soon to become The Compton Cross, to get back on its feet and safeguarded its future for London’s LGBT+ community.
“I want to say loud and clear – if you own or visit an LGBT+ venue which you believe is in trouble, reach out to me before it’s too late.
“I am also calling on all venue operators, developers, pub companies and others to sign up to the Mayor’s LGBT+ Venue Charter and show that you are committed to keeping our precious venues open and thriving.
“I hope that together, we can stem the tide of LGBT+ venue closures and maintain London’s reputation as a global capital of diversity.”
by Benjamin Butterworth
Source – PinkNews