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Ugly? Then Beijing bar won't let you in

The Straits Times, 4 August 2000

HONGKONG -- A 24-year-old woman whose face was disfigured by fire when she was 16 has sued a bar in Beijing for refusing her entry because of her ugly face.

I am ugly. But I have my dignity, said Ms Gao Bing, an editor with an Internet company in the capital city.

Her case has drawn public attention to the problem of discrimination against the disabled in China.

On Monday, Beijing's Chaoyang District Court accepted Ms Gao's lawsuit against the company which runs the bar for violating her rights as a consumer because of discrimination based on her looks, Hongkong iMail said yesterday.

Ms Gao went with friends to a high-class bar for a couple of drinks in Sanlitun, east of Beijing on April 22, the Hongkong daily quoted a report published in Beijing Morning Post on Tuesday.

Half-way through her drink, she left the bar for a short while but was stopped at the door when she returned, and told: We have to control the number of customers as there are too many tonight.

However, Ms Gao said she had seen others entering and leaving the bar that night. A week later she went back to the same bar but was again stopped by two security guards.

You are one of those we forbid to enter, one guard told her.

The last straw was when she went to the bar on May 1 with some foreigners and was again barred.

The bar manager dismissed her charges of discrimination, saying his staff barred her after she had insulted them.

The case has sparked public debate on the mainland's popular website sina.com, with many calling on society to take a closer look at discrimination.