Discrimination

Couple kicked out of car by homophobic Uber driver over ‘illegal’ backseat kiss

Alex Iovine and Emma Pichl (YouTube / WABC)

A same-sex couple in New York City was abruptly kicked out of a car by a homophobic Uber driver — and the women caught his tirade on video as he justified having thrown them out of his vehicle. The act of discrimination has sparked outrage and drew a sharp rebuke from Uber’s CEO.

Alex Iovine and her girlfriend, Emma Pichl, had hailed an Uber on Saturday to shuttle them from the borough of Brooklyn across the East River and into lower Manhattan. As the car made its way across the Manhattan bridge, Iovine, 26, and Pichl, 24, kissed each other ever so quickly. But the driver noticed. He suddenly pulled the car over and ordered them to get out.

“He started aggressively coming at us,” Pichl recalled. Iovine then took out her cellphone and began recording video of them pleading with him for an answer as to why he was demanding they leave the car,

“I said the first time, don’t do it,” the driver can be seen in the video responding, referencing the kiss.

Iovine and Pichl then informed the driver that there is nothing illegal about kissing.

“Yeah, it’s illegal,” the driver insisted. “Don’t do that here in the car.”

They informed him video was being recorded and then pressed him on why they were “not allowed to kiss in an Uber.”

“It’s disrespectful,” the driver replied.

“What’s disrespectful?” the women wondered, to which the driver replied, “I don’t want to argue — just get out of my car.”

“You’re gonna get fired,” the women warned him.

“We leaned over and peck kissed,” Iovine told WABC about the incident, exasperated at how such an innocent show of affection erupted into them being kicked out of the car. The two said the kiss was very quick and didn’t go beyond just a kiss. “We’ve never been targeted with such prejudicial behavior,” Iovine marveled.

The driver has been identified as Ahmad El Boutari and his conduct drew condemnation from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “I think they don’t belong driving period,” Khosrowshahi told The New York Post. “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.” In April, Khosrowshahi appeared at the Women in the World Summit in April where he was interviewed by Tina Brown and said he was in the midst of trying to reverse some of the ‘absolutely unacceptable’ company culture that had developed over the years at the famed startup.

Iovine and Pichl were refunded the $22 the ride from hell cost them. See footage of the homophobic driver trying to make a case for his discriminatory behavior in the video below.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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