Barred from Pubs

You would probably be appalled if I told you that, in Britain today, a certain group of people is effectively barred from certain pubs and other establishments. While the Guardian celebrates the fascinating life of a man who, fifty years ago, fought to overthrow the so-called colour bar which made pubs no-go places for black people, the fact is there is still a group of people for whom certain pubs are inaccessible. The circumstances may be different, but the result is the same.

If you use a wheelchair or powerchair, there are still pubs and other places which you simply can’t get into. Either there will be a step up to the door, or the doorway will be too narrow, or (pandemic aside) the place will be just too crampt to navigate through. Fortunately these days, thanks to legislation intended to ensure accessibility, such places are becoming rarer and rarer, at least in London, but nonetheless they still exist. And that’s even before you get to the problems of getting the bar staff to understand you.

Of course, I’m not claiming this is akin to overt ethnic discrimination; but surely it has to be pointed out that people with disabilities still can’t go into certain places because of issues which are entirely avoidable. While historic buildings, which often includes pubs, can be exempt from new accessibility rules, it can’t be that hard: Install a ramp, redesign your table layout and Bob’s your uncle. While this is very different to being told to leave a pub because of your skin colour, it is only when we start to frame such issues as forms of discrimination that they start to be dealt with.

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