A nightclub owner in Malta has said he is investigating claims that bouncers brutally threw to the ground two women for sharing a kiss.
The victim, Celine Balzan Gera, described how she swung by the bar with a friend. Sitting down due to COVID-19 restrictions, “we shared a kiss and soon enough one of the bouncers came to kick us out,” she said.
But after they resisted, the bouncer allegedly forced them both to the ground, kicking them repeatedly as he held them down.
“As we were unsure why we were being kicked out, we resisted and asked for a reason why,” Gera said, “when the bouncer threw us both to the ground, kicking us and putting pressure to be kept down.
“Absolutely disgusted by the way we were treated. Been to this place before and never in my life have I experienced homophobia and abuse in this kind.”
Nordic Bar bosses told Times of Malta that an investigation has been launched into the reported incident.
“We are carrying out our own investigations on the matter as well as collaborating with the police,” the owner said
“This is a very serious matter.”
European lawmakers condemn ‘unacceptable’ homophobia in Maltese nightclub
The episode was in no way surprising, the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) said, as it urged patrons to pass on the nightclub altogether for their own “safety”.
In a survey, MGRM said that more than half of LGBT+ people do not consider Paceville, the nightlife district in St Julian’s, safe.
Bouncers, in particular, were found by the group to target queer bar-goers – almost a fifth encountered aggression from coolers, they said.
Reported struggles ranged from security objecting to them kissing to the 14 per cent of respondents who said the incidents turned violent. Five per cent required medical assistance after the scuffles, they said.
“Nordic Bar was one of the frequently mentioned venues in our study on the safety of LGBTIQ people in Paceville,” the MGRM said on Facebook.
“At this point we advice the community not to go to this venue unless action is taken that guarantees our safety.”
Cyrus Engerer, a Maltese member of the European Parliament, called for more diversity training among bar staff to ensure that they are “made known of our freedom and rights in Malta”.
“What happened once again at The Nordic Bar Malta is unacceptable,” he said in a Facebook post.
“These past few weeks have seen a rise of homophobic violence in Malta. We have the best laws in Europe, yet hate is still strong and present.”
“Everyone must feel safe,” he said, “we are an LGBT+ Freedom Zone.”