Gold Coast gay nightclub MP’s is set to close after Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation cancelled the nightclub’s licence.
MP’s manager Claire Kingston has put the venue up for sale, accusing the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) of bias over the licence cancellation, The Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
“They told me it was due to a conviction of my business partner,” Kingston said.
“I was completely unaware. It took me totally by surprise. Nobody told me beforehand. The licence was just cancelled.
Kingston, who is transgender, said that she believes the OLGR has avoided dealing with her because of her identity.
“I believe they are close minded and don’t want a venue like ours here. I can’t operate so it has been financially devastating,” she said.
Kingston part-owns the company behind MP’s with former Escape bar owner Steven Ritchardson, who was last year convicted of drug-related offences.
“We are a mixed venue proudly catering for the gay, lesbian, bi and transgender community,” Kingston said when the club launched.
“We just want people to know it’s going to be a great place to come and you will feel safe.
“If you want to express yourself and be covered in glitter when you come in, that’s fine—just as long as it’s not going to get on the furniture.”
Kingston now says she was not aware of the conviction and that she has “heard nothing” from Ritchardson since the licence was cancelled “so it is just me on my own.”
A tribunal knocked back Kingston’s request to stay the cancellation so that the licence could be transferred into her name, with a review into the cancellation of the licence still to be held at an unconfirmed date.
“There is no reason why I couldn’t have been the licensee,” Kingston said.
She believes the result is “disappointing for the community”, saying that the venue was going from strength to strength.
“I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
The OLGR denied suggestions the cancellation was due to homophobia, saying “any decisions made by the commissioner under the Liquor Act are made in strict accordance with the relevant legislative provisions.”
The OLGR said that licensee and anyone with a registered interest is given the opportunity to make a submission in relation to a licence cancellation.