Protesters have staged a mass “kiss-in” at a UK supermarket where a gay couple were humiliated by a security guard for simply holding hands.
Thomas Rees, 32, and his boyfriend Josh Bradwell, 25, said they were shocked last week when a security guard at the Sainsbury’s supermarket in Hackney called them outside and told them that a female shopper had complained they were touching and behaving inappropriately.
Following the incident, Josh said: “I cannot fathom the idea that my love for another human being upsets someone else so much, but it did.
“We were going to make a roast chicken, get some potatoes – we were probably in there for four minutes, holding hands, nothing more than that.”
The couple received an apology from Sainsbury’s and a £10 voucher to spend in the store.
On Saturday evening, at least 200 people gathered outside the store to dance to Donna Summers and Diana Ross before scores of them streamed inside and filled the aisles to kiss each other.
— Noemi Gago (@noemi_gago) August 13, 2016
The 'Big Gay Kiss In' at Sainsbury's 💋 So many people turned up! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/maKzLjNWou
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) August 13, 2016
Michael Segalov organised the “big gay kiss-in” protest on Facebook, which encouraged LGBT people to gather at the Hackney branch where the “inappropriate hand holding” took place.
Writing on Facebook, he said: “In a year that’s seen attacks all too often on the LGBT community, it’s high time that Sainsbury’s – with profits over £500 million this year – put their money where their mouths are and use their resources to ensure that homophobia becomes a thing of the past.
“A £10 voucher just doesn’t cut it.”
It is not the first time that Sainsbury’s has come under scrutiny for their staff’s treatment of LGBT customers.
In October 2014, a lesbian couple complained after a security guard at a branch in Brighton reportedly told the couple that another customer found them “disgusting” when one pecked the other on the cheek and asked them to leave if they continued to show affection.
Sainsbury’s claims it does not tolerate discrimination in its stores and says it will “take appropriate action once we’ve concluded our investigation with our security contractor”.