Now Reading
Night Czar saves London pubs’ LGBTI status

Night Czar saves London pubs’ LGBTI status

US-born entertainment powerhouse Amy Lamé is now watching over London's nightlife

A deal with Molly Moggs’ owners, Enterprise Inn (Ei), has saved the Soho pub’s LGBTI status.

The London Night Czar Amy Lamé has confirmed that it will re-open as an LGBTI venue called ‘The Compton Cross.’

The pub was closed suddenly on 30 March 2017 after developers bought it, putting its gay scene status in question.

Lamé made the announcement at a Royal Vauxhall Tavern roundtable to launch a new report commissioned by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The report by UCL’s Urban Laboratory says the UK capital has lost over half its LGBTI venues over the last decade.

It sets out a new charter that Lamé hopes all LGBTI venues will sign up to.

Lamé said one of the first beneficiaries of a new charter would be the Molly Moggs venue.

‘The joint venture between Enterprise Inn and Marylebone Leisure group, who are the new operators [of Molly Moggs], are the first signatories of the new LGBT charter.’

Co-founder of the Marylebone Leisure Group Lawrence Santi said: ‘Together with Ei Group, we fully recognise the importance of Molly Moggs’ LGBTQ+ status for local people.

‘We’ve been working closely with Amy Lamé, to ensure when we reopen the venue as The Compton Cross it continues to be a fully inclusive and welcoming venue for all members of the local community.’

The charter created in collaboration with Pride in London, UK Black Pride, venues and promoters in London has five key points:

  • A visible rainbow flag should be displayed on the outside of the venue.
  • The venue should be marketed as an LGBTI venue.
  • The venue will provide a welcoming, accessible and safe environment for all.
  • Management and staff should be LGBTI friendly.
  • Programming should be LGBTI focused.

‘Gay venues for dummies’

Lamé hopes the new charter will act as a set of guidelines for all venues who want to be more LGBTI inclusive.

The report shows a 58% decline of LGBTI venues opens across the capital. There are just 53 left in 2017, down from 127 in 2006.

The worst hit borough is Islington, in the north of the city, losing 80% of its LGBTI venues since 2006.

Many high-profile LGBTI venue closures have made headlines recent years, from The Black Cap in Camden to The Joiner’s Arms in Tower Hamlets. The report shows that Lambeth, Camden and Westminster were other boroughs with high percentage losses.

In response, Mayor Khan has announced new powers for the Night Czar. Khan said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for LGBT+ venues to exist, and as difficult as possible for them to close.’

Lamé will be able to act, with support from City Hall, as mediator between owners, developers and pub companies.

The mayor will also be working on ‘bringing safeguarding measures for LGBTI venues into the planning process’. Continuing the reports work, an annual audit of LGBTI venues in the capital will take place.


Map detailing closures of different LGBT venues has changed in London from 2006 to 2017
This is how the spread of LGBT venues has changed in London from 2006 to 2017

Why are there so few LBQ women’s venues?

SHE Soho is the last LBQ women’s venue in the centre of the capital.

Lamé said if one just one new bar opened she hoped ‘it would be LBQ, and not in a basement.’

On why there were so few venues that catered to gay and bi women, she called on all venues to become more welcoming of all LGBTI people.

The Night Czar highlighted that bars could also do more for disabled access and that all venues should have gender neutral toilets.

Looking at the decline over the decade, she believed that it was a myth to blame apps.

‘People still want to meet face to face. If you’re talking on an app, you’re more likely to want to meet that person in an LGBT space. Apps are in that way unwittingly helping LGBT venues’

However, one reason so many local gay bars have closed over the years could be the ‘non-geographical’ nature of the community.

‘When Old Compton Street became a thing, the RVT struggled because it was a local pub.

‘There were local gay pubs all over London, then suddenly there was a gay street. Everyone wanted to go there and the local bars suffered.’

Lamé called on the community to get in touch if they hear any rumours about venue closures or troubles so she can help intervene.