Image: Leesa and Bryan Horn at their club Couples International. Source: The Courier-Mail
The only registered swingers club in Brisbane has been forced to close down over town planning requirements.
This has been done for of all things, lack of disabled access. This was exacerbated by a refusal to grant a building permit for the required changes:
The notice to close Couples International by June 26 will leave the city's "thriving" swinging set with nowhere to go and has pushed owners Bryan and Leesa Horn to the brink of financial ruin. They say the move will push "the scene" back into the seedy underground of dodgy hotels and suburban homes.
Mrs Horn, 48, said a Brisbane City Council inspector turned up at their Holden St address, in Woolloongabba, and notified them of the complaint last November. The long-time couple, who are mild-mannered building designers by day, began making plans to ensure their "BYO nightclub" complied with disability requirements, including a lift and wheelchair access throughout.
"The problem is we couldn't get a building permit for the changes," Mrs Horn said, adding the cost of making the building compliant under the Town Planning Act was not economically viable.
Mr Horn, 62, said Couples International, which holds paid parties from Thursday to Saturday nights, had hosted several guests in wheelchairs "with no complaints." Mrs Horn said: "They came quite a few times, actually.” …
There would be little point in shutting down such an establishment in any case, as it is an activity that can be carried out anywhere where there is the required space, and is probably going on right now. It is a consensual activity carried out by adults and like it or not, it is not the place of the authorities to interfere.
This does however; highlight the stupidity and inflexibility of planning laws especially given the fact that the place has been in operation for over ten years without any problems until now.
Enforcement of disabled access in private businesses by government instrumentalities is an idiotic knee jerk reflex, nanny state, feel good idea which has no place in a free society, and a gross violation of property rights. While it is nice to think that the disabled can access such places, there should be no compulsion to provide it.
Businesses that fail to make their buildings accessible tend to lose out by not getting the custom of those affected. It is not discrimination, not that that should be illegal either, the same risk applies to that. If a business discriminates, it only benefits its competitors who don’t.
It is outrageous that a small club catering to a small minority of the population should be forced to shut down over the possibility of a smaller percentage of a substantial minority of potential clients having some difficulty in accessing the place.
This is not beneficial to the public at large. It only helps the bigger well heeled clubs and venues that have space available for such activities with what the council deems to be proper access. These places have the funds to hire lobbyists and give the right sort of political donations, for which they expect the right sort of backhanders such as keeping the competition at bay.