NEW YORK, NY — An Uber driver who kicked two women out of his car in Manhattan on Saturday because he was uncomfortable with their lesbian kiss has been suspended by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission while they investigate the incident.
Ahmed el Boutari was driving Alex Iovine, 26, and Emma Pichl, 24, from Brooklyn to the East Village on Saturday. Iovine says she and her girlfriend, who have been dating for two years, were sitting on opposite sides of the back seat when they quickly leaned toward each other and “peck-kissed,” according to CNN. This angered el Boutari who kicked the women out of the car after crossing the Manhattan Bridge.
Iovine started filming el Boutari, who can be heard telling the women: “It’s illegal;” “It’s disrespectful;” and “You’re not allowed to do this.”
Both the couple and el Boutari reported the incident to Uber. El Boutari has reportedly lost access to the Uber app.
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg called the driver’s conduct “blatantly discriminatory behavior” that “will not be tolerated in the City of New York.” Fromberg also said, “It’s 2018 in New York City, and this isn’t the way we live anymore.”
Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the New York Post that he believes drivers like the one seen in the video “don’t belong on Uber.” It’s worth noting, however, that Uber’s Community Guidelines state that riders are not allowed to touch or flirt out of respect for a driver’s personal space — regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The same guidelines also do specify that drivers are not allowed to discriminate or make comments or gestures that are discriminatory.
According to CNN, the couple has become inspired to make their voices heard — and to attend New York City’s June 24 Pride parade, which celebrates the LGBTQ community.
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Main photo: screenshot from video shot during incident [Alex Iovine/PIx 11]