Historic gay sauna faces closure as campaigners warn of wider threat

The closure of the Pink Broadway gay sauna could have implications for other adult venues (Stock photo: Envato Elements)

An historic gay sauna may be forced to close its doors forever after insurers inexplicably denied it coverage.

The Pink Broadway sauna has welcomed customers to Southampton’s East Street for the past two decades and had been insured without problems the whole time.

But it’s now under threat of closure after the current insurer, Markerstudy, suddenly refused to renew the sauna’s liability insurance policy as it is an “adult business”.

“Given that insurance is mandatory, the refusal of insurance to a lawful business is disturbing. It could force the sauna out of business in a region of the country where there are already too few gay meeting and entertainment venues,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“Whatever people think about the adult services industry, it is legal and should not be refused the cover it needs to operate. If rejection by insurers becomes standard it could mean the closure of all gay saunas in the UK.”

The sauna’s owner, Nick Batt, has been attempting to renew his insurance policy since November 2020. In that time he’s sought help from multiple brokers and insurers, including the Association of British Insurers, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Federation of Small Businesses.

After receiving no support he reached out to Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman MP, John Glenn MP and several local CEOs – all to no avail.

“I cannot get to the bottom of why there is reluctance for the above people to help and advise, whether it is homophobic or just embarrassment,” he said. “I have been told at various times ‘Saunas are a fire risk…’ What about the last 20 years? ‘Potential water leaks….’ What about the last 20 years?

“No one in the public eye, it seems, has the balls to fight this issue out in the open.”

Batt says there has always been a niche “adult entertainment” arm to insurance, and can’t understand why the industry is now “turning their backs on us”.

Shockingly, he claims the Federation of Small Businesses advised him to remove the adult content on his website and change his business model entirely – something he is loathe to do to his clients.

“It may well be that it’s not exactly a homophobic injustice, but it certainly affects gay communities across the country,” he said. “The potential loss will have a huge effect on my customers and friends.

“It’s my concern that places like mine go to renew their policies, they will not be able to… London has lost seven saunas this year, and I don’t want to end up closing for good.”


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