Couple claim ‘gay hate campaign’ forced them from Derbyshire market

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A gay businessman claims his local council is treating him and his partner differently because of their sexuality.

Paul Harley and Adam Poole set up the Market Lunch Box at Alfreton Indoor Market three years ago.

We feel we are being victimised because we are a gay couple.

Paula Harley

Since then, they say they have been singled out for harsher treatment than other traders at the Institute Lane site.

This has included requesting the pair obtain licences that others are not asked for and forcing them to follow rules that are not applied to all.

Paul, of Derwent Place, Clay Cross, said: “We feel we are being victimised because we are a gay couple.

“I can’t think of any other reason why they would do it.”

After the pair complained to Amber Valley Borough Council about the unequal treatment, they say they were subjected to a vicious gay hate campaign on social media.

The situation got so bad that Paul was permanently excluded from the market for ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

As a result, the pair have decided to leave the market to set up a new café on Alfreton’s High Street.

An Amber Valley Borough Council spokesman said: “Following allegations of harassment made against Mr Harley, by another trader in Alfreton Indoor Market, the council undertook an extensive investigation, in September.

“This involved interviewing a number of people, including the complainant, Mr Poole and Mr Harley, and receiving written statements from others who had witnessed the events.

“It was concluded that there was sufficient evidence to suggest Mr Harley had acted unreasonably.

“As a result, the decision was taken to exclude him from the Market premises,” the spokesman added.

“The council would also advise that if Mr Harley feels he has been the victim of hate crime, this matter should be brought to the attention of the police.”