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Bosses at Limes Lounge in Canterbury threatened with arson as vicar offers to 'cure' them of their homosexuality

By Gerry Warren

The boss of Canterbury’s only gay bar says a vicar offered to “cleanse” its customers and cure them of their homosexuality.

Tony Butcher said he was left flabbergasted when the clergyman popped into Limes Lounge in Rosemary Lane, which he claims has been hounded by homophobic opposition ever since it opened six months ago.

He said: “It was our first Sunday when in came this chap in his 30s wearing a dog collar who suggested we should come to his church where he could cleanse us.

Tony Butcher, volunteer coordinator of Kent Pride

“I have no idea which church he was from and we just laughed it off. But it seems to have set the tone of the reaction to the venue which some people clearly don’t like.

“We had one angry bloke threaten to burn us down and now are being harassed by the city council, who are threatening to withdraw our licence because of complaints about noise.”

Now Mr Butcher, who used to run the Girls and Boys nights at the former Studio 41, said: “We have tried everything to be good neighbours but just feel like we are constantly being hounded and targeted.

“It has got to the stage where I think it can only be because of what we are, and some people don’t like it.”

But council assistant director Larissa Reed denied the authority was being anti-gay, saying it had a duty to investigate noise complaints.

Mr Butcher said: “The building was in a bit of a state when we took it over and I invested £50,000 in refurbishing it.

Tony says the bar has been targeted because of its clientele

“There have been three complaints about noise which we had done everything we can to address.

“I walk about the city and hear music blaring from pubs, but I would say we are one of the quietest and we never have any trouble.”

It is not the first time the city council has been accused of being anti-gay.

Previously, the authority came under fire from LGBT group Pride in Canterbury for not supporting gay activities in the district.

But council assistant director Larissa Reed said: “We absolutely refute any suggestion of homophobia on our part or that the council has an agenda against this premises.

"We simply have a duty to investigate noise complaints of this nature.

“It has got to the stage where I think it can only be because of what we are, and some people don’t like it” - Tony Butcher

“The council has received three complaints from different residents regarding the Limes Lounge since October 2013 when the current landlord took over.

“The complaints all relate to noise outside and also loud music from inside the pub. All complainants have submitted evidence that indicates there are issues of noise at certain times.”

She added: “Our noise officer has been working hard with all parties concerned, including the landlord of the pub, to try and reach an amicable resolution, and this is continuing.

“We would also stress that prior to the current landlord taking over, complaints were also received in 2013 regarding similar issues with the previous landlord.”

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