Uber driver suspended after ‘kicking out a lesbian couple for kissing’
An Uber driver who allegedly forced a lesbian couple out of his car after they shared a brief kiss has been suspended.
In a shocking video posted on Facebook, the two women – Emma Pichl, 24, and her girlfriend Alex Iovine, 26 – could be seen being told by driver Ahmad El Boutari that their kiss was “illegal.”
El Boutari has now had his licence suspended by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The organisation’s spokesman Allen Fromberg said the driver’s behaviour – which involved calling his passengers “disrespectful” and repeatedly insisting that they were breaking the law – was “ridiculous,” according to the Associated Press.
The spokesman said: “It’s 2018 in New York City, and this isn’t the way we live anymore,” before adding that El Boutari had committed “an unacceptable and repugnant act that will not be tolerated.”
Uber has also removed El Boutari’s access to its app while it investigates the incident.
Speaking to the New York Post, Pichl recounted what happened, saying: “We got over the Manhattan Bridge into the city.
“We were sitting on opposite sides of the backseat. At one point we leaned over and pecked [a] kiss, very fast,” she said.
Just five minutes after that, Pichl said the driver “pulled the cab over and said: ‘You should not do that… do not do that.'”
When he forced them to step out of the vehicle, the couple started recording.
In the video, El Boutari tells the pair that their actions are “illegal. You don’t do this.”
When they protest, telling him that “kissing is not illegal,” he insists they’re wrong, saying: “Yes, it is illegal. You don’t do this in the car.
“You aren’t allowed to do this.”
They press him on the issue, but he tells them that “it’s disrespectful” before seeming to attempt to take the phone they’re using to record the argument.
After the couple complained to Uber, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi condemned El Boutari’s actions, saying: “I think they don’t belong driving, period.”
“This is an open society and Uber is a platform that is available to anybody regardless of your background, your orientation, and that is sacred to us,” he continued.
“It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will do everything we can for that not to repeat.”
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It is the latest in a series of incidents in which Lyft and Uber drivers have ejected same-sex couples for showing affection, including a gay couple who were left on the side of the road in Texas at 4am earlier this year.
In May, a Lyft driver in Indiana kicked a gay couple out of his car for sharing a brief kiss.
And last year, Lyft banned a driver after RuPaul’s Drag Race star Jay Rivera claimed they were kicked out of a car for being gay.
Watch the shocking video here: