1 NEWS Health Reporter
A prominent human rights lawyer says the banning of a man from a Christchurch bar because of his facial tattoos is "unreasonable", and doesn't reflect the diverse nature of modern New Zealand.
Jesse Wright, 22, was refused entry into the Rockpool bar and cafe in Christchurch last Friday night because of his facial tattoos.
Mr Wright said, in a one star review of the bar on Facebook, that he was "highly offended" and "disgusted" to be turned away for his non-gang affiliated ink-work.
"What's to say I'm worse or better than any other one of the people going inside your venue," Mr Wright said.
"Disgusted you think it's fine to turn away someone based on what there skin looks like."
Human rights lawyer Michael Bott told ONE News that the exclusion of Mr Wright "appears to be unreasonable" and worrying.
"The worrying thing is that there are plenty of people with full moko ... [excluding Mr Wright] doesn't reflect the tolerant, diverse society that we are," Mr Bott said.
Tolerance should be encouraged for people with different points of view- Human rights lawyer Michael Bott
He said he had visited establishments throughout New Zealand, and the world, where facial tattoos were a part of society and generally accepted.
"Tattoos are quite popular, more so than in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Some people may find it strange or unusual, but I believe the bar is being unreasonable."
It is understood Mr Wright was considering lodging a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, but has since been told by the Commission there are no grounds for a complaint.
Rockpool owner Peter Whittaker said people with visible facial or neck tattoos were not welcome at his bar, Fairfax Media reported.
"Not everyone is automatically excluded but we don't want that profile of person there," he said.
Mr Bott said that he had never represented a client that had been refused entry into a bar because of tattoos, but has represented people with facial tattoos, adding it was "irrelavant" to the case.
"I think the policy of the bar itself appears to be somewhat irrational ... [Mr Wright] seems to be a polite and reasonably articulate man, the 75 on his cheek I believe represents the year his mother was born."
He said while bars and clubs were able to set there own dress code and rules, "tolerance should be encouraged for people with different points of view".
The owner of an Auckland bar and nightclub says the patronage at late night parties in upmarket Ponsonby is now "full of dicks, suits, and sleazes".
Golden Dawn owner Matthew Crawley, who established the popular bar five years ago, said his friends have told him the clientele of the "sleepy suburb" has drastically changed for the worse.
"We built it for Auckland to come get weird, to have fun, drink interesting things you wouldn't find anywhere else, eat yum stuff, see and hear music you might otherwise not, and to hide out from the boring and scary people of the city," he posted on Facebook.
"Over the past few years, Ponsonby has seen a ton of drastic changes in its purpose, and patronage. We are well aware of this, more so than anyone else. Late nights in Ponsonby are - just as often as not - quite gross," he added.
"And the number one complaint I hear about my little tavern, the thing I pour my almost everything into, is that it's full of dicks, suits, and sleazes later at night."
Mr Crawley told ONE News this afternoon that the post was initially meant for just his Facebook followers, but had "got a bit out of control".
"It's not that I'm trying to personally change the type of people who are coming into Ponsonby ... it is more just that's what people have said to me."
He finished the post by asking his patrons, "what do you reckon needs to be done?"
"Would you hire a 'hip young crowd picker' who stands out in the queue deciding who's ok and who's not?
"I think that would be really kind of elitist and horrible. We think our strength lies in being all things for almost all people. Would you close the doors earlier and have a lock in for all the friends and familiars after midnight? Would you make the music even weirder? Would you screen creepy psychedelic erotic horror on the walls?"
More than 200 people have since offered their opinions to Mr Crawley's questions, many asking for the bar to become a members only venue.