An Edinburgh pub has become the victim of targeted online abuse after police were called to disperse a group of anti-trans campaigners.
Doctors pub on Forrest Road, Edinburgh has been pelted with abuse and negative reviews following a “disruptive” incident on Saturday (21 August) involving the anti-trans group For Women Scotland.
The pub manager, who is trans, claimed members of the group were making customers and staff “feel threatened” and “uncomfortable”.
Staff asked the women to leave when their two-hour booking slot was up, the pub told Edinburgh Live, but the group reportedly refused and “shouted” at employees. At this point police were called.
“The whole bar team knew who they were from the start and asked me if I was comfortable with them,” the manager wrote on Twitter.
“Things escalated to the point of calling the police… they were increasingly making my staff uncomfortable and I decided for their safety and ease of shift to try to diplomatically ease them out by using the two hour per booking rule.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed they were called to the pub to disperse the women, but no charges were made.
“We were called around 10.15pm on Saturday, 21 August, to a report of a group of people refusing to leave a business premises in Forrest Road, Edinburgh,” they said.
“Officers attended, suitable advice was given and the group dispersed. We have no reports of criminality at this time, but enquiries continue into the incident.”
The incident prompted an online “hate mob” to pile on the pub and its manager, who continued to assert her right to refuse service to the group.
“They refused to budge,” she tweeted. “It was fascinating seeing their level of entitlement and belligerence develop. The ring leaders started being arrogant and shouting at my staff til we all agreed the police would be the only way to remove them.”
some customers asked what was happening & i told them the same account i told the police. they were horrified but thankful for me dealing with it the way I’m trained
there are 2 infallible truths in bars: the bartender is always right and the bartender can refuse service anytime
— mebulous entity (@mebisdead) August 22, 2021
The women tell a different story, claiming they “didn’t do anything wrong” and that they left when asked. They accuse Police Scotland of “allow[ing] themselves to be used as henchmen” and the pub of “discriminating” against their group.
A For Women Scotland spokesperson told The Times they believed that “this was an act motivated by recognition of Marion Millar”.
“At no point was a complaint about behaviour relayed and staff continued to serve [the group],” they said. “It’s quite something when women having a drink with friends are considered the most dangerous of clientele.
“As the main accusation made by the member of staff on Twitter (other than general sexist abusive terminology) was that the women were giving evil looks, we wonder if superstition regarding witches is still alive in Edinburgh hostelries.”
After several anti-trans people took to Tripadvisor to air their frustration the site was forced to suspend all reviews for the pub.
A message from Tripadvisor now reads: “Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”
With the abuse escalating on sites also including Twitter, scores of trans allies flooded social media with support for the pub and its manager Meb, sending the hashtag #IStandWithMeb trending at number two in the UK.
Doctors is the most affordable pub in the area, a no-nonsense proper boozer with outdoor & plenty of ground floor seating & it turns out the manager is also a legend #IStandWithMeb https://t.co/5tevDieZHD
— JA Clarke (@ElectricClarke) August 23, 2021
People should be able to go to their work free from harassment by hate groups. #IStandWithMeb
— David Paisley (@DavidPaisley) August 22, 2021
The Doctors Bar in Edinburgh was the place I realised I felt safe kissing my girlfriend in public. I’m glad to see the staff are continuing to make it a safe place for queer customers @BelhavenBrews
— Siobhan (@SiobhanFedelm) August 22, 2021
Enquiries into the alleged incident are ongoing. A spokesperson for Doctors said the pub is now conducting an internal investigation.
“Our aim is for our pubs to be friendly and welcoming places for all and we do not tolerate any form of discrimination from our customers or teams,” Greene King, the chain that owns the pub, told PinkNews.
“One of our team members did call the police due to some disruption and we are conducting an internal investigation and we will take appropriate action where necessary.”
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