Thomas Rees and his boyfriend Josh were asked to leave the Hackney branch of Sainsbury’s and told that a complaint had been made about them holding hands, claiming that they were ‘touching inappropriately’.
Mr. Rees has spoken out about the incident to ITV News, saying ‘My boyfriend and I went to our local Sainsbury’s holding hands as we normally do, just general public display of affection and we didn’t notice anything untoward or weird. In East London it’s not uncommon but we noticed the security guard staring.’
After the couple had paid for their shopping and were about to leave the store they were pulled to one side by the store security guard, who proceeded to leave the store with them before explaining to them that another customer had complained about them holding hands in the store and that they had to stop doing so.
Speaking about the incident Mr Rees has said, ‘My blood boiled. I was shaking and dumbfounded and unable to respond. He kept repeating that the customer felt our behaviour was inappropriate.’
To the bigot who complained about my bf & I holdin hands & the security guard at @sainsburys who felt the need to 'talk' to us outside🖕🏻
— Thomas Rees (@_thomasrees) August 8, 2016
After the incident Mr Rees took to Twitter to vent about his experience, where a representative for the company attempted to resolve the incident, by offering him a £10 gift card as a ‘goodwill gesture’.
The offer of the gift card has been turned down, with Mr Rees saying in response that he simply wants the retailer to train their staff around LGBT+ issues.
‘I just don’t understand why he needed to take us outside and why he needed to tell us to stop holding hands. There was no sense of humility’ He said whilst speaking to Buzzfeed. ‘I refuse to believe that this would have happened to a heterosexual couple – we just stared in disbelief. The issue here is it felt like 1960’s Britain.’
A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s said, ‘We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh. We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores. We will take appropriate action once we have concluded our investigation with our security contractor.’