Ensuring equal treatment for lesbians

by Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo

Ensuring equal treatment for lesbians

by Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo
Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo
Case Owner
We are two out and proud lesbians. We are crowdfunding for this case as we believe lesbians have the right to participate fully in the public domain, free from discrimination.
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Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo
Case Owner
We are two out and proud lesbians. We are crowdfunding for this case as we believe lesbians have the right to participate fully in the public domain, free from discrimination.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Dec. 9, 2019

Initial target met!

We were absolutely blown away that our initial funding target was met within eight hours of launching the page! Thanks so much to everyone who donated, shared the page and generally told the world ab…

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We are Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo, and we were among a group of lesbians who were refused service at a bar of the National Theatre because some of us were wearing t-shirts bearing the definition ‘Lesbian: a woman who loves other women'. 

We believe that we were treated unfairly for being visibly and unapologetically lesbian. We are crowdfunding to pay for legal representation to take a claim of discrimination against the National Theatre. 

We believe that lesbians should be able to live and participate fully and visibly in the public domain, free from discrimination and unequal treatment. 

Who are we? 

Julia is a researcher in the field of male violence against women.  Anne worked for many years in the prison service, where she was an active trade unionist. We are both out, proud and very happy lesbians who are committed to building lesbian community and visibility. We have spoken publicly against lesbian erasure and believe it is important to be active and visible in the world, especially as role models for younger lesbians who may be feeling isolated or being bullied for their sexuality. 

Our story 

On Friday 5 July 2019, the day before London Pride, we were among a group of lesbians and other friends who went for drinks and food at The Green Room, a bar of the National Theatre on London's South Bank. It was a hot summer's day and we were looking forward to relaxing with a leisurely drink in the afternoon sun. While we were there, some of us were questioned by a member of the waiting staff about our 'Lesbian' definition t-shirts. Shortly afterwards, a manager came out and told us that we would not be served and would have to leave the premises. Those of us who did attempt to buy drinks were refused service. We had been sitting perfectly quietly and peaceably in the outside area of the bar; our interactions with staff and other customers had been nothing but courteous and civil; at no time were we disruptive, rude or in any way contentious. We were just there to have a social drink, chat and relax. And yet we were refused service, security officers and then police were called, and we were told that we had to leave. 

We were shocked and alarmed that this could be happening in London in 2019.

As lesbians, we are entitled to protection from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. We are challenging the National Theatre because we believe it is vital that this protection is upheld. We are taking this case on behalf of all of us who were refused service that day, and for lesbians everywhere.

Case summary 

Our legal argument is that the National Theatre discriminated against us on the grounds of two protected characteristics: "sexual orientation" and "sex"  (Equality Act 2010)In addition, we believe that the National Theatre as a public authority contravened our human rights under Article 10 (the right to freedom of expression) and Article 11 (the right to freedom of assembly) of the Human Rights Act. 

What are we trying to achieve? 

This case matters. Anti-lesbian persecution and violence is an ongoing reality around the world and here in the UK. We have both experienced anti-lesbian harassment, and Anne experienced a serious physical assault in the recent past. Discrimination of the kind that we experienced at The Green Room communicates the very harmful message that lesbians are second-class citizens. 

A victory in this case is a victory for all lesbians, everywhere. We need to give the very clear message that lesbians must be able to participate freely and visibly in the  public domain. 

What is the next step in the case? 

We have written to the National Theatre threatening legal action for discrimination and violation of our human rights. Depending on their response, the next step will be preparing a legal case to take to court. 

How much are we raising and why? 

Our current goal is to raise £2,500 to pay for initial legal costs to our solicitor and barrister for writing the pre-action letter and preparation of a legal case. 

(If the case proceeds to court, we will be seeking to raise further funds in the region of £15,000 - £20,000 to cover these costs.) 

The funds will only be used for our legal costs. Should there be any money left over, this will be donated either to another case on CrowdJustice or the Access to Justice Foundation. 

Thank you so much for your support! We couldn't do this without you. 

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Update 1

Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo

Dec. 9, 2019

Initial target met!

We were absolutely blown away that our initial funding target was met within eight hours of launching the page! Thanks so much to everyone who donated, shared the page and generally told the world about our case. What a fantastic show of solidarity, and shared commitment to defending lesbian rights. 

It was great that we made the Sunday papers too: 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/08/legal-action-launched-row-national-theatre-lesbian-group/ 

Taking a legal case is quite daunting; the financial aspects particularly so. So it is a huge relief that our initial legal costs are now covered. This means that we have been able to challenge the National Theatre for discriminating against us as lesbians and as women, and for violating our human rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association. The ball is now in their court and we are awaiting their response. 

We will post another update once we have received a response from the National Theatre, and considered next steps. 

Thank you again to all those joining in our fight to ensure equal treatment for lesbians. 


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