Islington sauna owner granted special licence amid “homophobic” opposition
12:40 20 May 2013
The owner of a gay sauna who branded opponents of his spa “homophobic” has controversially been given the green light to continue offering special treatments.
A council meeting heard how a “Bareback Party” and “Raw Heat Pig Party” had been advertised at Paradise Spa, Crouch Hill, on gay online forums.
Investigators who swooped on the address with police also found a swing attached by harness to the ceiling and cage with a dog bowl in the corner after being greeted by semi-naked men.
Porn, a laptop and widescreen TV were also found while a council inspector was told the spa gives out condoms for “safe play” after asking if the Bareback party was being held later that day.
Holding sex parties would be against Islington Council rules.
But owner, Chris Horwood, told last week’s licensing regulatory committee he had no idea about the advertised sex parties, and that they were organised by third parties and never took place.
Mr Horwood said: “Considering Islington’s diverse community, that they have the highest population of gay and lesbian people of all other London boroughs, why they don’t embrace this type of business like the other London boroughs do, I really don’t know.
“It has been one of the worst issues I’ve had to deal with and has just been hostility from day one.”
In an e-mail sent to a council officer shown to the meeting he also branded complaints received as “malicious and homophobic”.
His lawyer, Chris Spence, also suggested the council was being hypocritical – because gay people were using council-run swimming pools and fitness centres for encounters.
One quick Google search of “gay sex Islington”, he told the meeting, throws up a number of websites of homosexuals talking about meet-ups at council-run facilities.
Mr Horwood had been applying for a Special Treatments Licence to provide sauna and steam room facilities after his previous one expired. Complaints had also been received from nearby residents.
But the licensing committee granted the 12-month licence despite objections from council officer Katie Tomashevski, who raised concerns licensing rules were being flouted after visiting the premises with police in October last year.
Mr Spence said there was no evidence pornography had been shown on the premises and that no sex had ever taken place on-site despite there being curtained-off booths.
He added the online parties advertised had not been promoted by Mr Horwood and that the harness and cage, which have since been removed, were merely to create an “atmosphere of masculinity”.
Paradise Spa advertises itself openly as a gay sauna on its website and charges £13 for entry,