Five men who were kicked out of an El Paso restaurant say they were forced out because they are gay.
Shortly after ordering a meal on June 26th at Chico’s Tacos restaurant, security staff allegedly ordered the group to leave after two of the men kissed.
The men then called the police, but said that officers sided with the restaurant, saying it had the right to refuse service to anyone.
Carlos Diaz de Leon told the El Paso Times it was “a simple kiss on the lips”.
He added that he overheard one of the security guards saying he didn’t allow “that faggot stuff” in the restaurant.
Police arrived an hour later and de Leon said one officer told the men it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public. He added that the officer threatened to issue a citation for “homosexual conduct”, a law ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2003.
In the same year, El Paso City Council passed a bill to discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses open to the public.
The restaurant refused to comment, although the security firm said one of its guards was taking legal advice.
Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said patrons can be asked to leave for lewd conduct, but this standard must apply to all customers.
“If a straight couple wouldn’t have gotten kicked out for it,” she said, “a gay couple shouldn’t.”
Neither side has asked for a written account of the incident yet and police officers said they did not file a report as they believed the situation was under control.