The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board has paused lewd conduct enforcement following fierce backlash from the LGBTQ community over raids of Seattle gay bars.
In a news release, the board also announced it was suspending participation in the City of Seattle’s Joint Enforcement Team and that no citations or violations would be issued to licensees impacted from the Jan. 26-27 “visits.”
Inspectors took issue with a bartender’s exposed nipples and people wearing jockstraps inside the Cuff Complex and Seattle Eagle — two leather bars located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The owner of Cuff told reporters that police and fire personnel entered the bar using flashlights and photographed patrons.
“This is unacceptable and a painful reminder of the kind of prejudice and bigotry the LGBTQ+ community experienced for decades,” Washington Sen. Marko Liias said. “We must get to the truth of why and how this happened and ensure businesses aren’t being targeted because of the people they serve.”
Ironically, Seattle city code permits public nudity, but not inside a business that sells alcohol.
At the board’s Jan. 31 meeting, queer activist Dan Savage blasted authorities for invading safe spaces.
“These were raids, stop calling them visits,” Savage said. “If everyone in a bar leaves when you show up — 10 of you in uniform with flashlights — they are not experiencing your presence as a social call.”