A gay couple was “ejected” from a London-based Addison Lee minicab for holding hands, according to reports in the UK press. Liam Kelly and his boyfriend had just left G-A-Y, a well-known central London nightclub and were picked up by a cab driver from the largest taxi firm in Europe, Addison Lee.
The occurrence only became news when Mr. Kelly tweeted about it, having also posted a photograph of the taxi driver’s license plate, sparking much response from the press, as well as many supportive messages from other Twitter users.
Kelly tweeted: “Just been ejected from an @AddisonLeeCabs taxi for being gay. Thanks for the homophobic treatment.” Later on, another message came in from Mr. Kelly saying: “My BF and I got into a taxi from G-A-Y Late. Started holding hands and were told to get out, and called dirty.” The minicab company has suspended the driver and opened an investigation into Kelly’s claims.
Whilst some Twitter users who were responding to Liam’s message suggested boycotting the firm, Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, the LGBT rights charity, made a statement:
“On the face of it this is a clear breach of the Equality Act and it’s very disturbing. There is no evidence that these two men were doing anything different to what many other loving couples do in the back of cabs. If the facts are proved, these two young men are entitled to go to the county courts.”
Following in the wake of recent events in Russia and the global backlash from LGBT activists and the general public alike, such an incident cannot be good PR for the British tourist board. Summerskill went on to say that this response sends “a very disturbing message to lots of people who come to London, both to work and as tourists, who imagine that it’s a 21st century metropolis, and that they’ll be treated accordingly.”
When approached for a response by the press, a spokesperson from Addison Lee stated “We are aware of an incident involving and Addison Lee vehicle in London last night. This incident is being investigated thoroughly…We are also in contact with the customer to understand more about what happened.” The spokesperson added “Addison Lee does not tolerate any form of discrimination. We pride ourselves in delivering the highest possible level of professional service, and we take matters like this very seriously.”
Mr. Kelly later replied to the many tweets he received in response to the incident, and tweeted back:
“Thank you to everyone for your messages of support, they mean a lot. We’re home now, after a very nice black taxi journey.”
This comment alone must give the traditional London black cab drivers something to quietly think about, in light of their dislike for the lower-priced minicab firms, which, they claim, are taking much of their trade. Traditional London black cab drivers have to undergo a 2-year training plan, known in the UK simply as ‘The Knowledge.’ With the advent of satellite navigation systems, apparently anybody can now be a cab driver.
Now, with the proliferation of, and competition from, London minicab firms, which have come under constant attack from the iconic black London Hackney Cabs, this incident is sure to harm the firm that has hit the news, as it is the largest of its kind in Europe. Addison Lee also provides a courier service, making around 1 million deliveries, whilst collecting and dropping approximately 10 million customers per year.
Written by: Brucella Newman