Scrub clearance work on Bristol Downs has raised concerns among some gay men who use the area for sex, the city council has said. The authority's lesbian, gay and bisexual advisory group said the action was "potentially discriminating".
Work on the Circular Road above Avon Gorge would open up the area to wildlife and visitors, the council said. The Terrence Higgins Trust said it was in talks with the police and council. Plans to clear the overgrown landscape follow consultations three years ago, when some Downs users complained about "inappropriate sexual activity".
A meeting of the Bristol Downs Committee on Monday was told: "Concerns were expressed by the city council's lesbian, gay and bisexual group that this action was potentially discriminating against gay and bisexual men whose activities on this part of the Downs were objected to by other members of the local community and Downs users."
Head of parks Peter Wilkinson said the council had strong equality policies to protect the interests of all groups, irrespective of their sexuality. "The general public are unhappy about people taking part in lewd behaviour in public spaces, whether it's between men and women or people of the same sex," he said. "We are working together with the Terrence Higgins Trust to make sure any work we will do is sensitive. We're making sure people know what we are doing so we are not seen to be discriminating."
Although having sex in a public place could give rise to a criminal charge such as indecent exposure, police have said they are unlikely to investigate unless a formal complaint is made.
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