Within minutes of arriving at the Oxford Hotel on Saturday March 27, an African gay man was evicted from Sydney’s iconic gay pub.
AD (name withheld on request to protect identity) was looking forward to a fun night out with a friend at the landmark Taylor Square establishment. Instead a security guard escorted him out of the premises in plain view of other patrons. On the footpath he was falsely accused of a historic credit card fraud. He was barred from entering the premises and was left on the street outside without any further explanation.
A day later AD posted about the incident on social media. In response the Oxford Hotel issued an apology online, stating it was examining “how this could have happened (including the part played by racial profiling).”
What Part Was Played By Racial Profiling?
AD, who is a community leader with a Sydney-based African youth group, said that the treatment meted out to him was “unacceptable”. He told Star Observer that he felt “deeply disrespected and humiliated”.
Star Observer reached out to the Oxford Hotel asking what action, if any, had been taken after the incident came to light.
In response the Universal Hotels sent an email stating that “as this matter is still being investigated it is not appropriate for us to add any comments at this time.” Hotel management instead pointed to the public statement posted on the venue’s Facebook page.
The post read: “Last Saturday night one of our customers was incorrectly accused of being involved in an historic credit card fraud incident at the venue. The customer was asked to leave the premises as a result and was told when out in the street that he was banned from returning while the fraud was being investigated.”
“We are still examining how this could have happened (including the part played by racial profiling). What is abundantly clear is that the customer had absolutely no involvement in the historic fraud of which he was accused. We are truly and deeply sorry for the insensitive and disrespectful manner in which this was handled.”
‘Felt Deeply Disrespected & Humilated’
AD, who met with the manager after his social media post went viral, told Star Observer that he was not satisfied with the meeting.
“We talked about the incident and I gave my point of view. At that time, he had not finished interviewing all the employees involved. He admitted it was a case of profiling based on racial appearance, so I would simply put it as a case of ‘they all look the same’. I acknowledge that he did post an apology. It remains to be seen whether his employees will correct their behaviour in future,” AD said in a written email to the Star Observer.
AD is sure he was ejected from the pub based on his appearance. “Of course I was singled out. The fact that of all the customers who must have been present at the venue when the credit card incident occurred (two months ago), I was picked out and suspended says it all. I have been to the venue more than a 100 times. It has been my preferred place to go during the pandemic. Yet that was of no help to me,” he said.
While he expected that the 100-year-old hotel would deal with the matter in a professional manner. “Instead of asking me into the back office to discuss their concerns, I was called outside on to the street by a security guard, who wanted to photograph my ID. After I asked to speak to the manager, he left me waiting out on the street and returned to what he had been doing before as if I didn’t matter. After about 15 minutes the manager had not appeared, so I left. I felt deeply disrespected and humiliated,” said AD.
‘As A Minority, Subjected To Greater Scrutiny’
This is not the first time that AD has faced discrimination at a gay venue in Sydney. Some time ago, he was sexually assaulted by another customer at another prominent gay establishment on Oxford street.
When he raised an objection, the hotel manager asked him to leave, while his attacker was allowed to remain. AD reported the matter to the police and the attacker was later convicted for common assault.
“I am aware that as a member of a minority I am sometimes subjected to greater scrutiny than most people, which is not fair,” AD posted on his social media page.
AD said he wants to make sure that others do not have to go through what he faced at the venue.
“When I meet with the general manager next I would suggest that they implement, most importantly, a racial and diversity training program for all their staff but also basic customer service training to ensure they treat all customers with dignity and respect,” said AD.
“I happen to be surrounded by good friends and family who have given me a lot of support. The next person might not have such support and could be even more wounded by the experience than I was,” he added.