Despite the UK championing in providing equal rights and legal protection for LGBTQ community at large the situation is not that optimistic when it comes to details. The trend is especially obvious in London. The UK’s capital has been a heart of LGBTQ life for decades but currently is at risk of losing this status. A quick look at figures clearly indicates that the number of gay venue keeps reducing. It dropped from 125 to 53 from 2007 to 2017 to be exact. One of the recent closures is dated back to mid-2019 when the very last bear club, XXL, had to shut its doors due to developers’ decision and court rule.
The move was characterized by the developer as a “social cleansing”. This definition is quite straightforward and leaves no doubts about real intentions. Although quite said, the outcome is not surprising at all as the developer was backed by the investors from Malaysia and Singapore. In the former same-sex couples are banned from adopting children while the latter applies sharia law for same sex activities. The developer, however, denied all the accusations and stated the decision was in line with the plans of the previous building owner.
Despite dark times for the London LGBTQ community seemed to be around the corner, its advocates and allies have been working hard for and now have some positive news to report. Although the initial talks with the developer regarding allocating LGBTQ venue within the projected sky-scrappers has eventually failed, the councillors succeeded in securing a new safe space for the community. It is planned to be opened by 2022. “While the new space will not be a like for like replacement, this agreement ensures it will provide a safe place for people to meet, socialise and celebrate the diverse LGBTQ+ population in our borough,” reads the statement of one of the councilors. The good news is that not only the safe space for LGBTQ will be granted but also that it will not be just XXL 2.0.
It is undoubtedly of the utmost importance for the London LGBTQ community to have a place to socialize, make new connections, find friends and supporters. This only can ensure diversity and inclusion and will allow the community to thrive and be optimistic about the future. The project has also received the support of London officials. That is Amy Lame from the mayor office worked closely with the developer to ensure equality to be restored. Let us hope this decision to become a turning point in a struggle of London gays for their rights and Southwark becoming one of greatest LGBTQ spots nationwide.