Visiting the country in February, Leanne said she was refused entry to two different bars while staying on the Gold Coast, including Jupiters Casino and Stingray at QT Gold Coast.
“Although we were completely dressed up, we were not allowed in because of the fact that we have visible tattoos,” she said in a video to her 1.7 million followers on Facebook.
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As seen in the video, the Jupiters Casino staff told Leanne and her friends that if their tattoos could be covered up, they would be allowed in.
While Leanne said the staff weren’t rude, it was a shock to feel discriminated against because of how they looked.
Several establishments on the Gold Coast ban patrons from entering if they have visible tattoos, especially on the neck and face. This has resulted in some of Leanne’s Australian fans questioning whether the recently introduced bikie laws have influenced the bar’s decision to not let the model and her friends in.
“It’s because of the bikie scene in Australia,” Kiara Worth commented on the video. “I don’t condone what they did, but it’s true a lot of criminals in Australia have those stereotypical tattoos.”
“They seem to have a problem with neck tattoos,” said tattooed local Jaymi-Lee Thornhill. “A few years back it started with the bikeys [sic] they assumed anyone with a neck or face tattoo where [sic] associated with them.”
In 2013, laws were introduced in Queensland to tackle criminal gangs in the state, predominantly in the Gold Coast holiday precinct.
The new regulations include a ban on three or more members of a criminal gang being together in a public place, and banning members of criminal organisations from owning or operating from tattoo parlours.
Signs have also appeared outside Surfers Paradise establishments, stating that neither bikies nor visible tattoos are permitted on the premises.
FIX bar manager Jack Connor said security refuse entry to people with face and neck tattoos because of the association to criminal gangs.
“A lot of bikies do have those tattoos on their face and neck, and it is mainly because when other patrons in the bar see someone with neck tattoos and face tattoos, they do become a bit uncomfortable,” he told Gold Coast Bulletin.
The Queensland Police said there is no law that prohibits people with tattoos from entering licensed premises but that it is up to the owners of the premises to enforce their own regulations and dress codes.