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Chicago Gay Bar Investigated For Banning Women

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Mar 9, 2012 11:30PM

Courtesy of Joe Erbentraut

Boystown bar Wang's is under investigation for allegations that the bar is not welcoming to women. The small bar known for delicious martinis has a sign that says "Men Only After 11 p.m.", but a manager at Wang's said it isn't enforced. Now the Illinois Department of Human Rights is investigating. The Huffington Post's Joe Erbentraut writes that the policy appears to date back nearly two years and inspired about a dozen disgruntled Yelp reviews.

"Those reviews report women being denied service, treated poorly and outright being asked to leave during the bar's busiest hours," former Chicagoisto Erbentraut writes. The Wang's manager said it was possible they were turned away for other reasons, and "If women want to come in, they are welcome at all hours. There is no discrimination here." Erbentraut writes:

Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the IDHR, confirmed that the state Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of one's sex or other protected categories in places of public accommodation -- including bars. The IDHR is looking into the matter.

"Anyone who believes they were denied or refused the full and equal enjoyment of the services of any bar or restaurant because of their sex or other protected category under the Act should contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights," Claffey said in a statement.

Gay blog Queerty asks if maybe the policy is just practical since it's a bar that caters to gay men. "So, how do we keep the Carrie Bradshaws of the world from taking over our bars without breaking the law or being unethical?"

Wang's, by the way, is not a multi-level dance club or a Steamworks-type of sexy establishment. It's just a tiny bar. A female promoter who works in East Lakeview said it's always been sexist in Boystown.

It's something I never thought to question because so much of Boystown is like that already that you come to expect it. It's obvious that the bar owners, managers and staff just don't care, but they're biting themselves in the ass because all money is green.

In 2010, a group of women launched a boycott of Boystown bar Spin because they said it was creating an environment unwelcoming for women. Gay bar Cocktail was caught in the "no females" controversy when it banned bachelorette parties in 2009. They said patrons felt the women were "flaunting" their right to marry, which is unfair since samesex marriage is still illegal.