Shocking report reveals more than half of London’s gay bars have closed down in a decade

Provided / Bex Walton via Flickr

Now the city’s Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling for drastic action.

London’s LGBT+ venues are in crisis with more than half closing their doors in the past decade – and even more are expected to follow if changes aren’t made.

A harrowing report from the University College London Urban Laboratory shows than while London boasted 127 LGBT+ venues in 2006, that figure has now dramatically fallen to just 53 in 2017 – marking a loss of 58%.

Studies show that large-scale developments and a lack of safeguarding measures are some reasons behind the closures.

In response to the findings, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a series of initial measures to help stem the flow of closures, including mediation between venue owners, developers and companies to be conducted by London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé, and the introduction of a brand new LGBT+ Venues Charter.

The Charter comes in the form of a five point pledge and is endorsed by Stonewall, Pride in London, UK Black Pride, Queer Spaces Network as well as several promoters and operators of venues throughout the capital.

Venues, developers, pub companies and property owners are all being encouraged to sign the Mayor’s Charter, which would ensure that LGBT+ venues should always be marketed as such, have a visible rainbow flag on display outside the venue, offer LGBT+ programming, with LGBT+ friendly management and staff, and that the venue ensures that it provides a welcoming, accessible and safe environment for all.

The Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory, Dr Ben Campkin said: “Our research evidences the rich variety of LGBT+ night-time venues in London and the continuing need for these spaces.”

The Mayor has a good history with LGBT+ issues, pledging to make London’s night-time economy and culture a priority, with LGBT+ spaces a key area.

On this issue, he 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 overstates in the role they play in helping members of an often vulnerable community to take pride I their identity, and enriching London as a whole.”

The Mayor provided the £10,000 funding behind UCL Urban Laboratory’s audit of LGBT+ spaces, as a wider project on the capital’s queer nightlife.

Amy Lamé – who has recently acted as a mediator to ensure that the closing Molly Moggs, soon to become The Compton Cross, remains as an LGBT+ space, added: “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.”

Some of the most popular LGBT+ venues have been forced to close in recent years, including the Black Cap in Camden and The Queen’s Head in Chelsea.

Words Lee Dalgetty

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