Oxford’s LGBTQ+ nightclub The Plush Lounge has cut ties with the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign. Plush said it will no longer recognise the campaign as ‘an authoritative voice of the queer community in Oxford’.

Plush, which moved to its new location in Frewin Court this year, said it had faced ‘harassment and bullying’ from the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ executive committee’ and threats to boycott the venue ‘if their demands are not met’. Plush did not provide more substantiated claims, apart from commenting that “threats have included proposing to issue statements they know to be factually incorrect, which would result in misleading the community they claim to represent.’ 

Plush added that its working relationship with the current executive committee of the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign had been ‘neither professional nor respectful’. In the statement released on Plush’s Facebook page, Plush said they “would much rather spend time speaking with individuals who want to help it make positive change, rather than defending negative communications that seek only to damage its queer space, and not work to improve it.”

Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign declined to comment, instructing The Oxford Blue to refer to their website, where “there is a short statement highlighting that we are working to resolve the matter.”

Its website says: “The Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign is a group of students working to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the University of Oxford, and in the wider Oxford community.

“We advocate for LGBTQ+ students and staff, push for changes at a University, faculty  and college-level, and are committed to fighting homophobia, transphobia and any other form of discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people in Oxford.”

The Oxford SU has added a response to the Plush press release, stating: “Oxford SU is yet to meet with or discuss any matters with Plush directly and is surprised by their statement.

“We will seek to ascertain if this is something we can assist them with and speak with any students involved to attempt to resolve matters. We will not be doing this publicly.”

Plush has recently become fully accessible since the success of the Plush for All accessibility campaign. The club, which relocated to Frewin Court, off Cornmarket Street, last year due to renovation plans for the previous venue, raised over £11,000 for the necessary accessibility upgrades, thanks to donations from various Oxford societies and JCRs. 

Plush added to their statement, saying that “as Plush has evolved to welcome a more diverse base of patrons, it has maintained its zero tolerance policy towards, amongst others, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia, biphobia, racism, xenophobia, or ableism.”

“Plush has, and always will be, committed to providing a safe atmosphere predominantly for the LGBTQ+ community, whilst welcoming all patrons who share its values and respect its culture. The venue always wants to ensure a good night out for everyone, and where this is not the case it has always encouraged people to speak to its staff.  More recently this has included social media campaigns reinforcing this principle and invitation to its patrons and introducing a direct email address for anyone who has concerns.

Plush’s relationship with Oxford LGBTQ+ Society has not been affected by their disaffiliation with the SU Campaign. Plush stated that in December, Plush’s management “met with representatives of Oxford’s LGBTQ+ Society and together agreed upon a number of recommendations which were quickly implemented.”

The Plush Lounge has not responded to our request for comment.

Lois Heslop

Lois Heslop is the co-founder of The Oxford Blue and was Editor-in-Chief for HT20 and TT20. She is in her second year studying Physics at Lady Margaret Hall, and hails from South London. Her other interests include classical music and opera, and she is currently a choral scholar.