A lesbian couple was kicked out of an Uber ride in New York City when their driver, a man identified as Ahmad El Boutari, noticed them kissing in his backseat. The incident was caught on camera, and the women now say they were shocked to have been discriminated against over their sexual orientation in a city as progressive as New York.
Girlfriends Alex Iovine and Emma Pichl told ABC New York’s WABC-TV that they called an Uber on Saturday night for a ride to Manhattan. While in the back of El Boutari’s car, the women kissed each other and the driver “abruptly” pulled over, ordering the women to get out and telling them it was “illegal” to kiss.
Iovine and Pichl quickly took out their cellphones and began taping El Boutari, whom they say was “aggressively” approaching them.
“I said the first time, don’t do it,” the driver, visibly upset, can be heard saying on the video.
“Kissing is not illegal,” the women inform El Boutari.
“Yeah, it’s illegal,” he replies, adding, “Don’t do that here in the car.”
The driver later explains to the women that their kissing in his car is “disrespectful.”
“I don’t want to argue with you. Just get out of my car,” says El Boutari.
The women said they have never experienced anything like this, and never expected to. “I think, for both us, it was just a shock, not really knowing what to say,” said Pichl.
Uber responded, making it clear that El Boutari’s behavior will not be tolerated.
“Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have been in touch with the rider regarding her experience. We are investigating and will take appropriate action,” an Uber spokesman said in a statement to ABC News.
A statement from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) called the driver’s behavior “blatantly discriminatory” and “repugnant.”
The women have already been refunded their $22 for the ride.
“I think we are going to steer clear of Uber for a bit,” said Pichl.