A Brisbane nightclub is under fire for denying entry to a Papua New Guinean/Australian woman wearing culturally significant face tattoos. The club stands by its decision but it’s about time we get over the antiquated idea that visible tattoos are something to be feared or avoided.

23-year-old Moale James spoke with the ABC about her recent experience with Brisbane’s Hey Chicha! nightclub.

“He looks at my licence, then he looks at me and he says, ‘I can’t let you in because of your face,'” said James.

“And I paused because I’ve actually been anticipating for this to happen.

“I’ve received discrimination before for my marks, but not to the extent of being refused entry.”

James belongs to the Motuan language group, and the reva reva markings on her face bare great cultural significance.

“Unfortunately due to the impacts of colonisation and the missionary influence in my village … this practice ‘held its breath’ for a few generations,” she told the ABC.

“There’s this new generation, my generation, of women who are making this practice every day.

“They identify who I am, who my family is, my community is. So there’s a lot of pride in wearing those marks.”

Moale James
Moale James (Source: Facebook).

According to the ABC, Hey Chica! sent James a personal message of apology.

“While we appreciate that our rule has caused you unintended distress, we do enforce a blanket policy that prohibits head and face tattoos at Hey Chica! along with other conditions of entry,” Hey Chica! wrote.

“While we understand this is a strict policy, we will continue to enforce this under the Liquor Act.”

It should be noted however that liquor laws in QLD only specify venues should aim to exclude people from their venues when they believe an individual is wearing items linked to criminal organisations.

Obviously, there’s a massive problem with this when considering cultural significant tattoos — these should never be associated with criminal activity.

“I’m not affiliated with gangs. I’m not a threat to society just because I wear the marks of my ancestors on my face,” said James.

Maybe it’s time we think about how fucked up blanket bans on face/neck tattoos are. So many people have tattoos now for a whole smorgasbord of reasons, barring entry to everyone who walks up to your establishment with a face tat just doesn’t work.

Pedestrian.TV has reached out to Hey Chica! for comment.

Image: Facebook / Instagram