Europe

Cafe's ban on kissing Austrian lesbians sparks protest

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Media captionAround 2,000 people gathered in support of the couple but a counter-protest defended the cafe owners' right to remove them

Some 2,000 people have staged a protest in Vienna after a lesbian couple said they were thrown out of a renowned cafe in Austria's capital for kissing.

The couple were ejected from the 112-year-old Cafe Prueckel last weekend for what they called a "greeting kiss".

The cafe's manager admitted to an "excessive" reaction but said they were "canoodling" and she needed to ensure "recognised standards of behaviour".

Vienna hosts several gay, bisexual and cross-dressing events every year.

In 2013, 80,000 people voted for Vienna as their favourite cultural destination on the website GayCities.com.

'Canoodling'

The couple said the protest was to draw attention to wider discrimination against gays.

Anastasia Lopez, 26, told Austrian newspapers that she and Eva Prewein, 19, were barred from the cafe after Christl Sedlar, the manager, said "diversity such as this belongs in a brothel, not in a traditional coffee house".

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Image caption The large crowd in Austria's capital called for greater respect towards gays, bisexuals and transvestites
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A demonstrator at the "Kuessen im Prueckel" (Kissing in Prueckel) protest

Ms Sedlar insisted she had acted because of the couple's "canoodling" rather than because they were gay.

She later apologised for the "excessive" reaction but said her job was "to ensure that recognised standards of behaviour in society are adhered to by all guests".

But the apology failed to stop anger on social media, which led to the city's tourist agency criticising Ms Sedlar's actions.

"We are here to make a stand against intolerance and homophobia," Philipp Pertl, from the Rainbow Scouting Austria rights group, told reporters at the protest.

"The law needs to change. It cannot be that gay and lesbians get thrown out of a cafe or restaurant for kissing," he added.

The city has become a hotspot for the communities since Austria's bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

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