Westminster Licencing Policy Review

Westminster Council has recently held a review of its Licencing and Cumulative Impact Policies which it has to do every five years.

The Licencing Policy sets out what businesses can or cannot do within the policies area. A cumulative Impact Area (CIA) then states how many businesses can operate within the geographical boundaries and adjacent vicinity of this.

Westminster, especially key parts of the west end, have been home and a safe space for LGBT+ people for a very long time. The LGBT+ scene, shops and spaces are all community spaces where all who live, work, and socialise can go to meet, socialise, or have a rest in a space which was made for them.

The issue with Licencing and especially Cumulative Impact Policies is that they are a blanket rule which is applied to an area and in their generic nature do not always empower minority spaces to adapt, survive or to start up. This is due to their applications being judged as adding to the Cumulative Impact which would see their applications being blocked or reviewed at a hearing which attracts large legal fees, which smaller independent spaces would not be able to pay.

This would result in new LGBT+ spaces having a barrier to opening and existing LGBT+ spaces having extra costs and challenges in times when Westminster has seen a huge decline in these community spaces.

The consultation ran from 12 October to 15 November 2020 which was during COVID-19 and a lockdown period when many LGBT+ communities were not around to be aware or have sufficient time to review this consultation. As such the consultation should be extended to ensure sufficient engagement.


  1. Review Westminster's nightlife and twenty-four- hour vision to match this with the requirements of LGBT+ stakeholders and ensure a solid foundation for the licensing review.
  2. To review and assess the current licencing policies which are up for review and advise on what the outcomes would be if that policy were put in place and their impact on the LGBT+ communities.
  3. To review and assess the current CIA policy which is up for review and advise on what the outcomes would be if that policy were put in place and their impact on the LGBT+ communities.
  4. Draw up recommendations and a plan with LGBT+ communities on bespoke licensing policies for the area to help current and future LGBT+ spaces, such as multiple Cumulative Impact areas, issues with current policy and ways around them to empower the LGBT+ communities to survive and evolve.

Trans Hate Crime Statistics

As part of Trans Day of Remembrance 2020, the London LGBT Forums Network and the Met LGBT Independent Advisory Group have published an article about the Met's recent decision to publish Trans Hate Crime statistics to the community for the first time.

Whilst we welcome this move from the Met and celebrate that it is a win for the community, we also remember that hate crime is a serious matter affecting many lives.

The Trans Hate Crime Report by Galop shows that:

LGBT Community Remembered

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Royal Air Force veteran David Bonney and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell laid a rainbow wreath at the Cenotaph on, Remembrance Sunday, 8 November 2020.

David, who served in the RAF, was the last UK serviceman to be jailed for being gay. He was sentenced to six months in prison in 1993.

As Peter said, “On Remembrance Sunday it is right that we honour all those who fought for freedom, including women, black and LGBT+ military personnel.” Read the full article.

Racial Discrimination by Gay Clubs

It has come to light that some gay clubs in the Westminster area have been refusing entrance to people because of their race.

Westminster Impact Area

Westminster council is carrying out a review of its licensing policy including changing its West End cumulative impact zone and tackling racial discrimination at licensed premises. The Council is holding a public consultation before finalising its new policy.

This review could have an impact on the gay venues in the borough.

Concerns Over Future of Admiral Duncan

Admiral Duncan Soho

The Admiral Duncan in Soho, the site of a 1999 nail bombing, has been called "A memorial that must be retained" but its future is in question.

Several gay bars in Soho are to remain closed until Covid-19 restrictions are eased, as its parent company 'rebases' its business. See Attitude for the full story.

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Choose Love In Carnaby

The Carnaby Christmas installation is now illuminated.

Choose Love

This year’s theme is Choose Love in Carnaby in partnership with the charity Choose Love.

From Here to Eternity

Here to Eternity

Sunil Gupta has been using photography as a critical practice since the 1970s. Subversive, impulsive, personal, and political, Gupta's socially engaged projects have focused on issues such as family, race, migration and the complexities and taboos of sexuality and homosexual life. His work has been an inspiration for generations of photographic activists and LGBTQ+ rights campaigners.

His book From Here to Eternity traces Sunil Gupta’s life through his personal archive: the snapshots, postcards, letters, posters, and news clippings collected during his long career in photography and activism. See Autograph for further details and how to purchase this inspiring book investigates the question What does it mean to be a gay Indian man?

London's Road to Recovery

Over the summer, Talk London asked you to help them shape the missions to London’s recovery. They were keen to find out what these missions meant to you and your community, whether anything critical was missing and who should play a role in achieving each mission.

Your views helped the Recovery Team to refine their missions ahead of the London Recovery Board meeting on 15 September. The Board were deeply grateful for the extensive engagement and your comments on our discussions.

See how you made all the difference.

Building Safe Choices 2020

Tonic, Stonewall Housing and Opening Doors London have teamed up to conduct much-needed research to better understand the housing, care and support requirements of older LGBT+ people in London. The results of this research can be found in the Building Safe Choices 2020 Report.

Housing Policy and Strategy

Westminster City Council are seeking your views on a new strategy to ensure our city has a well-run and managed private rented sector. They have also set out a Homelessness Strategy to tackle and respond to homelessness in the city.

Poem for Bi Visibilty

We value and respect the contribution that bisexuals make to our LGBT+ Community. Today we celebrate them in all their diversity. Read Trudy's Poem

Public Art Sculpture Commemorating AIDS

After working closely with Ash Kotak of AIDS Memory UK, our West End Councillors and Simon Buckley, rector of St Anne's Church, the Westminster LGBT Forum is pleased to announce that a memorial sculpture commemorating forty years of AIDs is proposed for Soho. If planning permission is granted, it will be erected in the Garden of St Anne's Church as part of its National tour of the UK.

This innovative sculpture called ‘The Tree of Resilience, Resistance & Resonance’ is designed by British art/fashion duo Bert Gilbert and Izzet Ers (The Sinistry) and cast from solid bronze. It is red in colour and looks like a cross between a tree and a totem pole. It stands 3.5 metres high with a hollowed-out trunk containing a bell that can be rung.

Etched on the outside of the trunk are the names of people who have died of AIDs, revealing a gold centre underneath its bark. The trunk stands on seven roots and has seven branches splitting into a further twenty-two smaller branches each with an eye inscribed at its end. These are significant numbers in relation to Sufism and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life

St Anne's Soho

If approved, this beautiful sculpture will be placed in St Anne’s gardens from 1 August to 3 December 2021, giving everyone the opportunity to visit this consecrated and peaceful place in the heart of Soho, and reflect on the impact that the AIDs virus had, and still has, on our community. 

We hope it will raise awareness of the stigma most people suffering from HIV experience and inspire hope and understanding.

The design of the tree will be translated into hologram form and projected onto public sites around the country to stimulate general awareness about HIV and promote the support networks available.

This project will be launched on World AIDS Day via Zoom on 1 December 2020. Watch this space for further information.

Street Closures In Soho

Westminster LGBT Forum actively supported the campaign to pedestrianize some of the streets in Soho to regenerate business for local LGBT+ businesses and venues.

Update: Westminster Council has granted an extension of al fresco dining in Soho until end of October 2020.

Old Compton Street

Co-chair, Trudy Howson, said in an interview on Soho Radio:

“Westminster LGBT+ Forum unequivocally supports the local bars, restaurants and clubs in Soho who enhance the quality of life of our community. During this prolonged period of lockdown, so many of our community have felt lonely and isolated. We now need to encourage people to come out of their homes and enjoy Soho again.

Our local businesses have been severely financially compromised by the enforced closure of their venues. We need to give them a chance to thrive again. Opening the streets in Soho to visitors, prioritising customers over traffic, in a safe space that follows government guidelines would do this, as well as providing a relaxing al fresco social experience.”

Lisle Street

We were therefore very pleased when the West End councillors approved the proposal, and introduced a fast track system to push this ruling through. Fifteen streets in Soho including Old Compton Street, Dean Street, Lisle Street, Frith Street, Poland Street and Greek Street were pedestrianised on Saturday 4 July 2020.

Although there were initially teething problems due to the popularity of this scheme, local businesses quickly stepped up to the mark with their staff monitoring customer numbers and social distancing.

Planning for the Future

We have exciting plans to grow the membership and reach of the Westminster LGBT Forum, so come along and help us to achieve that.

We are working hard on developing a ‘Friends with Benefits’ scheme featuring LGBTQ+ venues and services who are willing to offer special deals to our Friends. There will be an update on this at the meeting.

Afternoon catch up

The new team (Trudy, David, Chris and Michael) have been hard at work planning the new look Forum whilst being fuelled by homemade scones and afternoon tea, courtesy of David (Co Chair).

Soho Mosque Application

Muslim gay flag

Westminster LGBT Forum was happy to support the proposal from the Aziz Foundation for a Mosque at the Trocadero in Piccadilly. If this application had been successful we would have welcomed them and their organisation to Soho, the heart of London’s LGBT+ community.

The application was later withdrawn but we would have been very happy to work with the Aziz Foundation to promote acceptance, respect, and tolerance across all of Soho’s diverse and wonderful communities.

Soho has a proud and historic tradition of accepting and welcoming people of all kinds from all over the world, and its communities are open minded and tolerant of all religions. We believed this proposal was very much in keeping with that tradition, and would have helped support Muslims living, working and visiting our very unique part of Westminster where they are currently poorly served.

Soho is the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of London’s LGBT+ Community. Not only is it the biggest and one of the most popular LGBT+ locations in the UK, it is also recognised as one of the top LGBT+ destinations globally.

Both of our communities contribute to Soho’s fabric, financially, artistically, culturally, and spiritually. Our Forum is an open community organisation, welcoming people of all faiths and none.