Gay couple allegedly asked 'to stop what you are doing' in London restaurant

Lydia Cawson alleges she had done nothing more than show a 'loving reaction' to upset partner

A gay woman allegedly asked to stop consoling her distraught partner in a London restaurant has spoken of “shock” at the couple’s treatment.

Lydia Cawson, 29, alleges she and her girlfriend were asked by a staff member at Southbank’s Canteen eatery to "stop what you are doing please, this is a family restaurant."

Ms Cawson, who works in the Oxo Tower as a wardrobe assistant on the stage adaption of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, had met her girlfriend for a brief dinner.

She told London Live how her partner became upset after a stressful week and she was consoling her, sitting beside her and giving her a "light peck on the lips." A member of staff is said to have come over and asked them to stop.

"We were really shocked by this challenge because we didn’t feel like we were being overly affectionate," explained Ms Cawson. "I didn’t notice any adverse reaction in the restaurant myself."

"It was just a simple loving reaction," she said.

Although the restaurant has now apologised for any "issues" arising from the incident, and said it  would investigate what happened, the incident comes amid a new report that shows rising levels of hate crimes across the capital.

According to the Metropolitan Police crimes targeting the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender) community have risen to as many as 100 cases a month, with a monthly increase of 21.5 per cent since March 2014.

"I feel like something needs to be done," Ms Cawson said when asked about the figures.

"I don’t know whether it is about awareness, I don’t know whether it’s about a sort of education of what is homophobia, what is offensive to people. I don’t think people are fully aware of different comments they make as to how they are received and I don’t know how that can be changed."

She claimed that many of her friends’ and family’s personal experiences did not attest to London being a LGBT-friendly city.

"But there are so many homophobic, not even homophobic but just prejudicial, acts you witness all the time, every single day in London," she claimed. "It happens all the time."

A spokesperson for the restaurant told the Evening Standard:  "We have been already being in touch with the two guests that raised a complaint following their visit last week trying to get further details of the visit. We have apologised to them for any issues that this may have caused them and we have started a full investigation into these allegations.

"At Canteen we train all of our staff and managers in Equal Rights and opportunities no matter the race, religion or sexual orientation.

"We are very surprised and shocked to learn about this issue, which we have never encountered before. Nonetheless this has been taken extremely seriously and a full investigation has been launched to find out what happened."