A poster at a Brighton restaurant that appeared to make light of rape has been condemned as offensive.

Artwork at the MEATLiquor bar and restaurant in York Place, Brighton, outraged customers and victims’ charities who said it trivialised sexual assault.

MeatLiquor said the slogan, which The Argus has decided not to reproduce, was intended to be “playful and cheeky”.

The restaurant has now removed the poster and made a donation to Brighton rape charity Survivors’ Network by way of apology.

Fabia Bates, director of domestic abuse charity Survivors’ Network, said: “It is horrifying that in 2014 MEATLiquor find it acceptable to use references to rape in their decoration.

“Their justification that the image was part of a spoof campaign and was meant to be playful is even more concerning.

“Rape is wrong, unlawful and causes unimaginable distress to more than 85,000 women and 9,000 men in the UK every year.

“It is not a topic to be joked about or taken lightly.

“This kind of message serves only to validate the unacceptable level of tolerance and misunderstanding about rape in our society.”

Katie Russell from charity Rape Crisis added: “The combination of imagery and slogan on this poster is clearly intended to make reference to very serious sexual violence against women.

“It is sexist, offensive, and potentially deeply distressing for the large numbers of survivors of sexual violence who will inevitably see a poster displayed in a public place.

“It's extremely ill-considered and irresponsible for a business to attempt to trivialise sexual violence in this way.”

A spokeswoman for MEATLiquor said: “The decor is designed to be playful and cheeky, and while we regret any offence that has been taken in this case, we wish to make clear that at no time have we intended to condone or trivialise such serious matters.

“This is the first occasion we are aware of in which a diner has considered our décor in our ‘peek a boo room’ to have transgressed what they consider to be acceptable, and we are sorry that this is the case.

“We have taken immediate action to redact the material in question.”

She said she could not comment on how the decorations had appeared in the first place.

Victims of sexual violence in need of support can contact the Survivors Network helpline on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 7pm to 9pm on 01273 720110.