Big Kiss-In targets Brighton Sainsbury's after lesbian couple were told to leave the branch by security guard 'for kissing'

The supermarket giant has apologised and stressed that the two women were 'not behaving inappropriately'

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The Independent Online

A “Big Kiss-In” has been held in the Brighton branch of Sainsbury’s after a lesbian couple were threatened with expulsion by a security guard for briefly kissing.

Dozens of people – men and women, including one couple in wedding dress – descended on the store on Wednesday as bemused shoppers looked on.

Video footage of the event shown by ITV News showed a number of couples, some in fancy dress, kissing as people held signs with supermarket-style slogans like “Live well for lez”.

Sussex University’s students union said in a tweet: “Thanks to everyone who took part in the #bigkissin. Great to see people in Brighton and beyond showing we like kissing and hate homophobia.”

The incident that sparked the protest happened last week when a customer complained about Annabelle Paige, a Sussex University student, and her partner kissing.

Ms Paige told The Times that she had only given her girlfriend a light kiss, but was told by a security guard to stop or leave the store. “I’m so shocked and upset about it. I get that if another customer is uncomfortable that’s a bad thing... but the problem is the other customer was in the wrong and essentially being homophobic. The guard didn’t seem to understand that, I was absolutely humiliated,” she said shortly after the incident.

One of those at the protest, Fiona Spechter, told The Guardian that the situation “made me realise how I can take it for granted that I can hold my girlfriend’s hand in public”.

“I’ve lived in Brighton for a long time and it’s normal here, so when something like this happens, it’s really shocking,” she said.

And Sara Fogg, 33, who was there with her wife Caroline, 37, told Brighton’s Argus newspaper: “Everyone has a right to show affection regardless of their sexuality or gender. I think it is good to show support in this way and take a stand.”

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas told the paper that a “Kiss-In” was a “typically creative, Brighton way to highlight the issue”.

But she added that the original incident showed “there is still some way to go before homophobia is stamped out in the city”.

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Sainsbury’s has apologised and stressed that Ms Paige and her partner were “not behaving inappropriately”.

“We understand the point that people were making today and we were happy to welcome the Big Kiss-In to our store,” a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's said. “We’re pleased everyone had fun and we were happy for the chance to remind everyone just how important being an inclusive business and employer is to us.”