Plans for a new lap dancing club in the heart of Liverpool’s gay quarter has faced opposition from local LGBTI residents and businesses.
Local campaigners are claiming the new club, called Paradise, could lead to a rise in homophobic hate crimes in the Stanley Street area, with fears that all-male stag parties could clash with locals.
There were also concerns the club would undermine the idea of having a designated LGBTI area in the centre of Liverpool.
Nick Small, a local councillor who opposed the club, said: ‘We have made huge strides in the last 10-15 years in turning round a quire homophobic city into one that celebrates diversity.
‘The quarter is an initiative that has been endorse d by the conceit… an officially recognised gay quarter intended to prioritise and target investment in a gay-friendly night time economy. If this goes ahead it will change the character of the Stanley Street quarter.
I hope I am wrong but I believe this could see hate crime in the area increase.’
Lawyers acting on behalf of the club rejected the arguments put forth by campaigners, saying the council would not oppose a gay club being built in a straight area.
Liam Scully, the director for Paradise, has rejected the claims that the club was only for straight people.
He said: ‘The suggestion that we are opening up a heterosexual club in a gay area does not sit comfortably with me.’
Lesley O’Neil, another director for Paradise, has also defended the opening of the club, saying: ‘We are so excited about this venue.
‘We feel our business can fit side by side with the others and benefit and contribute to the local economy.’
It has also been claimed the club will have a gay manager.
Stanley Street was officially designated as Liverpool’s gay quarter in August 2011, with rainbow street signs being installed in November that year – becoming the first British city to do so.