London sex-positive and queer club nights Crossbreed and Klub Verboten have been threatened with legal action by Tower Hamlets Council.
Authorities are "relying on an outdated and moralistic license condition" in their attempt to stop events taking place, according to Verboten founder Karl Verboten, who told Vice magazine an event planned for this weekend will likely be cancelled "unless everyone is fully clothed and no sex or play takes place". The promoter explains both parties are being hit with attempts to "prohibit nudity and semi-nudity in safeguarded venues".
The report, by regular DJ Mag contributor Simon Doherty, goes on to clarify UK law does not restrict public nudity unless there is the intention of "harassment, causing alarm or distress", and both club nights operate strict entry and vetting policies to provide safe spaces.
Legally, any move deemed an attack on the basis of nudity or semi-nudity could also be viewed as discriminatory against non-binary, gender-fluid, and transgender people under the Equality Act 2010. The council's move is part of a wider objection to "sexual encounter venues", but, notably, private members swinger's clubs in the area, with a focus on heterosexual clientele, have apparently so far not been targeted.
“Tower Hamlets Council is relying on an outdated and moralistic licence condition that purports to prohibit ‘nudity and semi-nudity’ at clubbing venues to shut Klub Verboten down,” Verboten said in a statement. “This type of condition was designed to stop unlawful lap dancing in venues across the borough, and not prohibit informed, consensual adults from nudity in safe and well-monitored venues.”
In January, Crossbreed announced it would host a new weekly series at Colour Factory, which it says will go ahead as planned this weekend. The party was nominated for Best Club Event in DJ Mag's Best of British Awards 2021.
In a statement shared on Instagram, Crossbreed said: "As some of you may already be aware Tower Hamlets council have targeted Klub Verboten's event this weekend and are trying to shut it down.
"Yesterday we received an email from Tower Hamlets putting pressure on us quoting the same archaic laws and attempting to shut us down. We stand with Klub Verboten and all Queer Spaces against state-sanctioned oppression.
"We are in the process of speaking with a legal team and assessing our options, as things stand this weekend's event will absolutely be going ahead.