Over the past 10 years, the LGBT rights movement has seen landmark victories. Not only are there more places than ever where same-sex marriage is legal but a host of anti-discrimination laws have prevented LGBT people from losing their jobs on account of their sexuality.
But in spite of these developments, the world is not yet the bastion of queer acceptance that we would like it to be. Thousands of LGBT people the world over still face abuse and mistreatment for being who they are, something made clear earlier this month when it was revealed that over 500 LGBT people were killed in The Americas in the past 15 months because of their identity.
Not quite as harsh but just as discriminatory is the recent issue in Vienna, Austria. The European country is a popular holiday destination for members of the LGBT community so it came as a shock to one lesbian couple when they were removed from a café just for sharing a kiss.
The couple, Eva Prewein, 26 and Anastasia Lopez, 19, visited Café Prückel two weeks ago. As any other loved up couple would, they shared a kiss but to their surprise the café’s manager Christi Sedlar refused to serve them, saying that “diversity such as this belongs in a brothel, not in a traditional coffee house”. Following the conversation, the two women were then asked to leave the café altogether.
Sedlar has since apologised, saying that although her reaction was “excessive” she did it “to ensure that recognised standards of behaviour in society are adhered to by all guests”.
Nonetheless, this apology didn’t satisfy everyone and as a result, Austrian student group Achse kritischer SchülerInnen decided to stage a kiss in. On January 16th over 2000 protesters showed up outside the café, with Philipp Pertl, from the Rainbow Scouting Austria rights group telling reporters that:
“We are here to make a stand against intolerance and homophobia. The law needs to change. It cannot be that gay and lesbians get thrown out of a cafe or restaurant for kissing.”
Austria does have anti-discrimination laws in place for the provision of goods and services, but as Sedlar maintains that the couple were thrown out for “canoodling” and not because they were gay, it’s unlikely that criminal prosecution can take place.