'Sadness' as Australian court rules against 'women only' art exhibit


Men visiting the Museum of Old and Modern Art in Tasmania, Australia will soon be allowed into its 'Ladies Lounge'. The museum has been ordered to make the change after a male visitor complained the women-only policy was discriminatory. Photo: MONA

An artist who banned men from seeing her Australian museum exhibit said on Thursday she was "saddened" by a court decision forcing her to admit "persons who do not identify as ladies".

Kirsha Kaechele set up the Ladies Lounge at Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), in part as a protest against discrimination and men's only social clubs, which existed for centuries virtually unchecked.

A male visitor launched a discrimination case last year after being denied entry to the marble-floored lounge, which features work by leading artists and a collection of antiquities.

A court this week agreed that because he had paid the museum's Aus$35 (RM108) entry fee he should be able to access all areas of the museum, including the Ladies Lounge.

The court said the museum had violated Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Act and gave it 28 days to "cease refusing entry" to "persons who do not identify as ladies".

MONA did not dispute that the lounge is discriminatory, but argued the point of the "participatory installation" was that men were not there.

Kaechele had described the exhibit as a response to the experience of women being forbidden from entering certain spaces throughout history.

Its name is a nod to the time before 1970s when women were denied entry to public bars and had to sit in ladies lounges.

"I am deeply saddened by the court's ruling," Kaechele said in a statement posted on Instagram.

"I have been granted a 28 day period. This allows me space to absorb the situation, seek counsel and compose myself" she added. - AFP

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