A demonstration was held outside the Joiners Arms, Hackney Road, on Saturday, January 21 to mark the two-year anniversary of the legendary LGBT+ venue’s closure.
It was organised by Friends of the Joiners Arms, a community group founded in 2014 to save the pub, and bring it into community ownership, so it becomes London’s first cooperatively owned, LGBT+ community centre, with the pub a central part of its operation.
The venue was forced to close in January 2015 as the owners – working with property developers – planned to bulldoze the venue to make way for luxury flats, but has remained empty ever since, with no plans submitted by the owners for development.
Friends of the Joiners Arms action were supported by other campaign groups, such as We Are The Black Cap and Stop The Blocks and members of the local LGBT+ community, to show the owners of the site that the fight continues to win back the venue.
Jon Ward, co-chair of the Friends of the Joiners Arms, said: “The Joiners was one the few late night LGBT+ venues in the east end, and its closure has left a massive hole in queer night scene and in our hearts. The venue closed because of greed and nothing else – why should such an important queer space be left to rot when it could be such an asset to the community?”
Amy Roberts, co-chair of Friends of the Arms, added: “London’s lost over a quarter of its queer venues in the last few years. This has left a huge hole in LGBT+ nightlife and has damaged the well-being of the queer community in London. This, coupled with the rise in homophobic hate crime, means LGBT+ people have fewer places to feel safe and to call home.”