A popular restaurant in Brakpan, South Africa, has come under fire for excluding same-sex couples from its new “date night” promotion, as a pair of journalists posing as gay diners were “asked to leave”.
The eatery says “there is nothing wrong” with its discriminatory policy, but the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is looking into the controversy. “Date night is a themed event designed for a man and a woman,” Lake Restaurant owner Sami-Jo Amiras said. “The reason for stating ‘no same-sex couple’ is not meant to discriminate against anyone, but to control a couple’s event.”
When word of the restaurant’s ban began spreading, two Eyewitness News reporters, Clement Manyathela and Victor Magwedze, arrived there on a Thursday, the designated “date night”, and were turned away at the door after identifying themselves as gay. “We were told we’d be welcome any other night, as long as it was not a Thursday,” Magwedze later recalled on the station’s nightly broadcast.
Because the equality clause of South Africa’s constitution expressly forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, the SAHRC has opened an investigation. “There are numerous establishments that still refuse entry or services to people based on their sexual orientation and that this is obviously in breach of our right to equality,” noted SAHRC agent Gushwell Brooks.
The anti-LGBT policy is made clear in booking-confirmation text messages from the restaurant, and Amiras said the rule would remain in effect while the investigation proceeded.