A disabled gay man ended up crawling up the stairs of a gay nightclub in Glasgow, which refused him entry, only to have door staff call the police on him.
He and his partner are now at the heart of a discrimination row with one of Scotland’s top gay venues after the incident in the early hours of this morning (14 June).
Nightclub bosses allegedly refused entry to cerebral palsy sufferer Robert Gale since he was in a wheelchair and said there were no facilities for him at their venue, The Polo Lounge, in the heart of the gay village in Scotland’s biggest city.
This led to the humiliating scene of Gale getting out of his wheelchair and pulling himself up a set of stairs and into the nightclub in front of customers on a busy city center street.
Ironically Gale and husband Nathan had been celebrating with friends in the city after attending the Scottish Charity Awards at the Old Fruitmarket, where they won an award for their contribution to further equal rights for the community.
Both work with campaigning group the Equality Network.
Nathan Gale told us: ‘I just couldn’t believe it, after such an amazing evening we wanted to celebrate with our friends and simply asked to get in.
‘We understand they don’t have a ramp but explained Robert didn’t need it and we could carry his chair up the small set of stairs into the venue. They still refused then called the police!’
As Robert sat just inside the doorway of the venue and management waited on the arrival of officers to support them, Nathan asked to join his partner and to sit down since standing is difficult for long periods of time as an arthritis sufferer with walking aides.
‘I was then lifted up by the security guard and moved away from the building, leaving Robert still sitting on the cold floor, it was awful. People were walking in and out of the club around us. It was humiliating.’ he told us.
Nathan Gale added: ‘The manager who came out was downright rude, obnoxious and demeaning. He was just looking down on us. This is exactly why disabled people don’t go out very often.’
And he wants G1 to offer a full apology to the group, saying: ‘He treated us like we were worthless, he clearly needs some training on this sort of thing.’
The Polo Lounge, operated by G1 Group, say the group became ‘agitated and abusive’ before they called police to assist with the incident.
In a statement, G1 director of compliance Kristin Nicol told us: ‘Three males approached the main entrance to the Polo Lounge.
‘At that point they were informed that there was no facility for wheelchair access to the building (due to the structural restrictions of a Grade A listed building, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010).
‘The three males became agitated and abusive. At that point the decision was made to refuse entry to the whole party. They then forced their way past the front door security and as a result the police were called to deal with them.
‘The police removed the males because of their disorderly and anti-social conduct and then dealt with them. G1 are carrying out a full internal inquiry in line with our robust policy in relation to the Equality Act 2010, as is standard compliance practice.’
Police Scotland confirmed there was no action taken against the couple, adding: ‘Police were called to a report of two men refusing to leave the Polo Lounge, Wilson Street, Glasgow around 0010 hours on Friday 14 June.
‘Police attended, there was no complaint made.’
The incident has caused outrage among the couple’s friends, family and even complete strangers, with messages of support flooding in on Twitter and Facebook.
Nathan Gale concluded: ‘We’re still shaken up that this kind of thing can happen, we couldn’t sleep because of it.
‘It’s wrong and needs to be challenged.’
At time of print the couple have had no contact from G1 Group and have said they hope their experience highlights the need for training on anti-discriminatory behavior for security and management at G1 venues.