Denied Insurance Puts Historic UK Gay Sauna on Verge of Closure

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday March 5, 2021

Pink Broadway, a historic gay sauna in Southampton, England, faces the prospect of permanently shuttering after insurers refused to renew the business' insurance, Pink News reports.

Since November, Nick Batt, the sauna's owner, has attempted to renew Pink Broadway's liability insurance. Batt reached out to multiple insurers and brokers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman MP, John Glenn MP, and several local CEOs but without success.

"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," Batt 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 suspects that his insurance hasn't been renewed because the sauna is an adult business. He says this is perplexing because there had always been a branch of the insurance industry specifically geared toward "adult entertainment."

Batt said the Federation of Small Businesses, one of the brokers he contacted for support, advised him to rebrand — remove adult content on the sauna's website and change its business model. Batt said such a move could alienate his clients.

If Batt cannot obtain insurance and Pink Broadway is forced to close permanently, "The potential loss will have a huge effect on my customers and friends." Furthermore, Batt adds, "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."

Markersturdy Group, the insurer that refused to renew Pink Broadway's liability insurance, claims that it "eased offering commercial property insurance of any type in December 2019, due to capacity being withdrawn by their underwriter." Furthermore, at the time when Pink Broadway's policy lapsed in January, Markerstudy Group said it no longer offered "a commercial combined policy. This applies to all commercial property types and is not risk-specific."

U.K. human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said saunas like Pink Broadway serve LGBTQ people in "regions of the country where there are already too few gay meeting and entertainment venues." Tatchell warns that the broader implications of not providing insurance to legal "adult" businesses could result in "the closure of all gay saunas in the U.K."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.