NYC Uber Driver Allegedly Kicks Out Lesbian Couple For Kissing In Backseat During Pride Month

A lesbian couple claimed they were kicked out of their Uber by their driver on Saturday after sharing a quick kiss in the backseat of the car.

Alex Iovine, 26, said she and her girlfriend Emma Pichl, 24, were taking an Uber from Pig Beach in Gowanus to the East Village in New York City when they were booted mid-ride.

Uber
A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. A lesbian couple accused an Uber driver in New York City of kicking them out of his car after they kissed in the backseat. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

"I was taking an Uber yesterday afternoon in Manhattan when my driver abruptly pulled over and kicked myself and my girlfriend out of the car," Iovine told the New York Daily News. Iovine said the driver began yelling at the two women for "being disrespectful and inappropriate" after they briefly kissed.

The advertising technology consultant released a one minute video of the driver kicking the couple out. The video, which noted the driver's name and his license plate number, has been viewed more than 1,400 times.

"We were sitting on opposite sides of the car," Iovine said. "We leaned in for a peck, and that's what it was, a legit peck." She maintained that she is aware of the ride sharing company's rules against sex in the backseat and said she and her girlfriend did nothing more than kiss.

During the ride, the driver pulled his vehicle over on Canal Street and ordered the women out of his car. Iovine's video shows the driver, who was identified as Ahmad El Boutari, opening the back door and yelling at the women to leave.

"It's illegal," he is heard saying after being asked why he's kicking them out. "You can't do this in the car. You aren't allowed to do this."

The couple questioned him about his decision and asked him why they were not allowed to kiss. "It's disrespectful," El Boutari says. The women then threatened to call the police and have the driver fired.

"It's not illegal to kiss in New York," one of the women told El Boutari.

Iovine told the Daily News that Uber did not respond to her complaint until the newspaper reported the incident. Uber refunded Iovine the $22 fare and reportedly apologized to her.

"Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience," an Uber spokesperson told Newsweek in a statement. "We are investigating and will take appropriate action."

The spokesperson said that both the rider and the driver reported the incident. Iovino also filed a complaint with New York City's Human Rights Commission, according to the Daily News.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission, which is responsible for regulating Uber and other ride-hail apps, did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment. However, the agency told the Daily News that it has not received complaints about the driver in the past and that it has launched its own investigation.

"We've reached out to the victim, and will be starting the investigation today," Deputy Commissioner Allan Fromberg told the newspaper.

Iovine, who did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment, referred to the driver as "homophobic" and said she believed the driver was offended by the kiss because of his religion.

"It was a really terrible experience," she said, "and ironically occurred on a bright sunny day during pride month in NYC."