Uber driver accused of throwing gay couple out of taxi for kissing

'I’ve never experienced homophobia like that before,' says Mr Cooper, 'and I came out in secondary school'

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 05 July 2016 17:14 BST
Mr Cooper said had 'never felt less safe as a gay person' after allegedly being discriminated against by an Uber driver
Mr Cooper said had 'never felt less safe as a gay person' after allegedly being discriminated against by an Uber driver

A driver for the taxi company Uber purportedly told a gay couple to "stop that or get out" after they briefly kissed in the back of his taxi.

Will Cooper, from south London, said he was on a first date in Soho at around 8.30pm when the pair got into a taxi and kissed.

The driver told them to get out, allegedly saying: “I don’t want two guys kissing in the back of my taxi."

Mr Cooper, told The Independent: “When we got into the cab, we had a kiss on the back seat.

“It wasn’t heavy petting, it was a kiss that must have lasted less than three seconds.

“I would understand if we were both blind drunk but it wasn’t like that at all.

“We had just started driving and immediately the taxi driver said: 'You guys need to stop that or get out.'"

After the taxi driver's comments, Mr Cooper said he confronted him and suggested he would not treat a straight couple in such a way.

“He just sat in complete silence looking at me in the mirror," the 25-year-old said.

"He was eerily quiet. He didn’t seem to realise there was any problem with what he was saying at all."

Mr Cooper and his date, who had known each other for a long time before they dated, got out of the car and made a complaint to Uber.

The company refunded the cost of five pounds for the ride and said it would look into disciplining the driver.

“I feel like we have been completely fobbed off," Mr Cooper said.

"Five pounds and a verbal agreement the driver is going to be told off is not acceptable."

Uber told The Independent it was investigating the incident.

It said in a statement: “Uber celebrates diversity and does not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever."

Mr Cooper, who works as a caseworker in an MP’s office, said he was considering making an official complaint to the police.

“I’ve never experienced homophobia like that before," he said.

"And I came out in secondary school. That puts it in perspective”

Mr Cooper said he had felt there had been a rise in homophobic feeling in recent weeks, following the shooting of 49 people in a gay club in Orlando, Florida.

“I have never felt less safe as a gay person, which is concerning because it’s never been a real issue for me before," he said.

A spokesperson from Stonewall, which supports LGBT people, said: "Incidents like this demonstrate how much is left to do until all LGBT people are able to be themselves without experiencing discrimination and abuse.

“We continue to see an increase in the number of reported homophobic hate crimes across the UK, including in areas deemed ‘safe’ and ‘inclusive’ of the community."

In January this year, an Uber driver was suspended after allegedly throwing a lesbian couple out of his car for kissing.

“How many people have had this happen before and haven’t said anything? That’s what worries me," Mr Cooper said.

“I can take this stuff but I don’t want it to happen to people that can’t,” he said.

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