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Face tattoo falls foul of St Kilda hotel described as ‘racist’

A man says he was turned away from a pub in Melbourne’ St Kilda because of his traditional Maori face tattoos.

Touch football coach Gary Harding, says a staff member at the Village Belle Hotel turned him away for a dinner booking by a because of his traditional Maori face markings.

He labelled it a “racist restaurant” in a Facebook review, and says the pub’s bouncer told him “surely you’d get that a lot”.

Harding told the Herald Sun his moko (face tattoo) was “a blessing from my mother, who asked me to wear (it) on behalf of my family”.

“So to be knocked back on the weekend by one person’s ignorant comments, not being allowed access to a venue because he stigmatised it as just another facial tattoo was a little bit sad,” he said.

He was told the Village Belle’s policy barred anyone with facial tattoos from entering.

“(The bouncer) said ‘we’re not allowed to let people with facial tattoos in here’ and I was about to go into the conversation with him about the difference between cultural markings and tattoos,” Harding said.

“But the ignorant way he spoke, I could tell he wasn’t up for a conversation or to understand what it was.”


Sheridan Randall, 10th September 2019