LGBTQ Venues Accused of Extreme Racism in UK’s ‘Gay Capital of the North’

Ahead of Manchester's Pride celebrations, 10 people tell VICE World News they have experienced racist abuse and discrimination in and around the city's Gay Village.
manchester lgbtq racism
House of Spice. Photo: Supplied

Several LGBTQ venues in the heart of the Gay Village in Manchester, northern England, have been accused of racism and racial prejudice by people of colour. 

Ten black, Asian and Latinx people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender told VICE World News about racist incidents with staff and customers in and around the city’s Gay Village. They say they have been called “paki”, “nigger”, and other slurs, and been blocked from entering venues because of their race. 


The claims, which date from just a few weeks ago to before the COVID pandemic, come as Manchester Pride celebrations take place this coming weekend, with thousands of LGBTQ people expected to take to the city’s venues. The event has previously been accused of racial prejudice, and people who spoke to us said that changes feel “performative only."

Manchester Pride – and all of the eight venues in question – declined to comment when asked about racism within their events and premises. 

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Manchester is known as the “gay capital of the North”, with LGBTQ historical landmarks filling the city. Manchester’s Gay Village is the region’s main area for LGBTQ nightlife, and it is one of the oldest and most established gay communities in Europe. More than 200,000 people attended Manchester Pride in 2019, and this weekend organisers are expecting even bigger numbers. 

On the 29th of July this year, Lucky Roy Singh was told “get out you paki” by a security guard at Via, a bar in the Gay Village. 

Singh is the “house mother” – or leader – of a collective called House of Spice – an LGBTQ group of people of colour who live, work and perform across Manchester. The group of six was holding a meeting in the city centre to discuss some upcoming gigs, then decided to go out in the Gay Village. 

Lucky Roy Singh. Photo: Supplied

Lucky Roy Singh. Photo: Supplied

“The staff were giving us dirty looks all night, making us feel like we’d done something wrong just for existing and being there,” Singh told VICE World News. 

After one of the group’s performers took off her top, while wearing a bra underneath, a security guard came over and said, “Put that back on or you’ll have to get out.” The situation then became “heated”, with “house aunt” Jaheda Choudhury challenging the bouncer because “everybody” had their tops off. At this point, Choudhury was “jabbed” by the security officer, and Singh then intervened.

“They were getting in each other’s faces and the security guard was really making a scene. The guard suddenly pushed me and said ‘Get out, you paki’ – we were all so shocked. She pinched me too, on my chest. At that point, we got straight out.” 

Singh reported the incident to the police as a race-based hate crime. Greater Manchester Police told VICE World News that they are currently investigating the incident, but no arrests or charges have been made yet. They added: “We will be investigating this individual incident comprehensively and will endeavour to work with the victim to achieve justice… We will not tolerate any form of hate towards a group or individual in the city centre.” 


Via declined to comment. 

Darren Jackson, 57, has spent several years going out on the gay scene in Manchester, and he says he has repeatedly experienced racism in the Village. 

A few months ago, he was called the N-word and told to “fuck off” by a “young white guy” who he tried to strike up a conversation with in a club night venue. 

Darren Jackson. Photo: Supplied

Darren Jackson. Photo: Supplied

“Racism is so real in Manchester’s Gay Village. Unless you’re white, you’re labelled, you’re looked at badly, and you’re judged.”

Since VICE World News contacted the LGBTQ venue about this incident, managers are now investigating it. 

Asked if he reported this incident to the police, Jackson said, “Definitely not. Why even bother?” He said he’s “completely lost faith” in the police doing anything based on racist verbal attacks, after someone he was with in Manchester was called a racial slur, and they failed to turn up to investigate it. 

Chachu Huss, who also lives in Manchester, told me this incident is not surprising. This year, they have been called the P-word “three times” in LGBTQ spaces in Manchester – including The Eagle and G-A-Y. They said the experiences leave them “hollow and filled with a mixture of shame and rage.”

Huss continued: “We have had enough of having to accept racism in spaces and places that are for the queer people of colour community too. The Village has to change and we won't stop until it is genuinely inclusive.”


Huss asked for allies to “step up” and “stop this happening time and time again.”

In another incident, Hiren Patel, a gay man based in Manchester, told VICE World News that he had only recently started going back to the Gay Village because of “blatant racism” he experienced a few years ago, when he was refused entry to a venue. 

Around three years ago, Patel was queuing with a friend outside the Thompsons Arms, an LGBTQ venue in Manchester’s Gay Village. 

“We got to the front of the queue, but we were turned away at the door, and it was really bizarre because everyone else was just walking in. We challenged the door staff, and they said it’s a members-only night. We thought it must be because we’re two Asian guys.”

“So we went around the corner and rang the Thompson’s Arms. I asked if it was a members-only night, and the person said “no, no, absolutely not, we don’t have anything like that here.”

Patel immediately went and spoke to the manager, and he and his friend were invited inside, but they didn’t receive an apology. The security guard was still working there months later. 

Tan Ire is a Latin American individual living in Manchester. They told me, “At this point it seems malicious, sometimes it feels like they hire racist staff on purpose.”


A few months ago they were dancing with their white partner at a bar – which they do not want to name because they still visit it – when a bouncer made a racially insensitive comment. 

“She looked at me and loudly said, ‘You’re such a spicy mamacita,’ and I just froze. It’s a racist comment and it’s sexually aggressive. I’ve been touched and groped without consent and I’ve had enough of it.” 

“Sometimes it’s just not worth calling out these organisations anymore because nothing changes. Manchester Pride has said they want to change, but their work feels so performative.”

Other experiences shared with VICE World News included a gay Iraqi photographer being labelled a “terrorist” by bar staff when he was taking photos outside of a Manchester LGBTQ venue. On trying to enter the Village bar, Joshua Haddad, who is not a Muslim, was told by door staff he “shouldn’t even be drinking there” as he’s a “muzzer.” 

Another gay man, Kesh Kumar had just walked into New York New York bar, in the heart of the Gay Village, when an on-stage performer made a comment about his race. 

“As I walked in she said, “Taxi driver’s arrived, who ordered a taxi?”, he told VICE World News. After challenging the performer on her comment, he was dragged out by bouncers, and injured in the process. He reported the incident to Greater Manchester Police, but he said “it went nowhere” and “the police failed”. 


Amir Dean, 33, who moved to Manchester from Bradford, and performs in the city, said he sees a lot of racial bias. 

Amir Dean. Photo: Supplied.

Amir Dean. Photo: Supplied.

“I do think it affects black artists here more than South Asian performers, but I am very familiar with being told, ‘We’ve got a diverse lineup, so we don’t need you,’ as if there are limits on how many people of colour can perform in a show.”

“There is definitely a perception here that we’re disposable compared to our white counterparts,” he said, however, he notes that the LGBTQ venues he does perform in are “always safe-spaces for South Asians” and staff go “above and beyond” to support him and the community.

A born and raised Mancunian, Darren Pritchard knows Manchester’s LGBTQ scene inside out. He’s played a part in organising several black queer events within the city, but he told me, “I don’t go to the Village now unless there’s a paycheque attached to the visit.”

He added: “A lot of the venues have a history of racist incidents, but for me the biggest issue is the bouncers. It’s time for the security and bar staff to understand the powers they have. If someone’s being racist, they need to get kicked out, and if staff are racist, they should go too.” 

Manchester Pride declined repeated opportunities to comment.