A gay couple were the subjects of discrimination yesterday while out grocery-shopping in the UK. A London Borough of Hackney store told the gay couple their behaviour was inappropriate, when engaging in a normal public display of affection – holding hands.
Having just finished shopping, and paying for their goods, at the Sainsbury’s store on Hackney Road, Thomas Rees and his partner, Josh, were motioned over by a security guard, who asked them to follow him outside.
Thinking there was some mistake in relation to the goods he had bought, or that inadvertently they had an unpaid-for item among the groceries, the two men followed the guard, only to be told that a customer had complained that they were ‘touching inappropriately’ by holding hands.
Mr Rees told ITV News that he was “shocked and dumbfounded” by the security guard’s behaviour:
“My blood boiled. I was shaking and dumbfounded and unable to respond. He kept repeating the customer felt our behaviour was inappropriate”.
Mr Rees felt that the security guard must not have had diversity training, saying:
“If he had training he wouldn’t have handled it in the way he did”,
and called on Sainsbury’s to ensure their staff and contractors receive diversity training.
Having offered Mr Rees a £10 gift card, the store has since apologised for the actions of the guard, telling ITV News:
“We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh. We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores. We will take appropriate action once we’ve concluded our investigation with the security contractor”.