The video showed Uber driver Ahmad El Boutari ejecting Emma Pichl, 24, who initially thought he was joking, and her girlfriend of two years, Alex Iovine from his car under the spurious pretext that what they were doing was illegal.
Following the incident and the widespread condemnation it generated, Uber Chief Dara Khosrowshahi stated that drivers who display prejudiced attitudes “don’t belong on Uber”. Speaking the The New York Post, he said: “I think they don’t belong driving period”, adding, “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. It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will do everything we can for that not to repeat.”
According to Pichl, “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. Five minutes later he pulled the cab over and said – You should not do that…do not do that.”
“My girlfriend started laughing. She thought he was joking,” Iovine, an advertising technology consultant, said. The couple quickly realised he was serious. “He yelled at us for being disrespectful and inappropriate because we pecked on the lips.”
In the video El Boutari can be seen lecturing the couple, telling them that what they had done was illegal and disrespectful.
This is not the first time that LGBT+ Uber passengers have been left languishing on pathways following a driver taking exception to public displays of affection. In January a gay couple were left on the side of a freeway after one driver objected to their backseat kiss.
At the time Uber highlighted a bizarre policy which stated, “As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldn’t touch or flirt with other people in the car…That’s no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what.” This no flirting policy was seen by some as a partial defence of the driver.
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