A kiss-in is to take place on Saturday at a California shopping centre after a security guard allegedly asked a gay couple to leave for kissing each other on the cheek and holding hands.

The Westfield Galleria mall in Sacramento came under fire when Fox40 reported that 21-year-old Daniel Chesmore and his partner 24-year-old Jose Guzman were asked to leave for a public display of affection. 

The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center issued a statement denouncing the security guard’s conduct saying the incident was “unfortunately representative of the hate still harboured by many.”

Beverly Kearney, an advocate for the LGBT community in Sacramento is now organising a kiss-in at the mall on 9 March to protest against the incident, reports the Sacramento Bee.

She said: “We’re calling it a kiss-in because that’s why they were ejected from the mall.”

On Tuesday, the shopping centre released a written statement about the incident:

“All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally – including those displaying affection. We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply.

“We’re sorry for any misperceptions with regard to the incident reported upon yesterday. At Westfield, we celebrate the diversity of our employees, shoppers and community, and will continue to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all.”

However, the statement did not satisfy members of the gay and lesbian community and customers expressed their displeasure on the Galleria’s Facebook page.

The shopping centre released a revised statement late Tuesday night explaining that simple displays of affection including kissing and holding hands were okay but Mr Chesmore and Mr Guzman broke rules that ban sexually explicit conduct, and that the security officer asked them to stop this conduct but did not ask them to leave.

The statement does not specify what the type of conduct was but says that similar conduct by heterosexual couples has resulted in the same requests to follow the rules.

Mr Chesmore and Mr Guzman could not be reached for comment, however Ms Kearney said that the statement did not apologise for what happened.

She said: “It feels to me like it’s placating. As someone said, ‘You’re not sorry for what happened. You’re sorry you got caught.’ “

The Galleria’s statement also said they will “embrace” the kiss-in, and that “all of our customers are welcome — including those displaying affection.”