Emma Pichl and her girlfriend of two years, Alex Iovine, took an Uber in New York City on Saturday, June 9. The pair “pecked” each other on the lips while in the back seat, which set this NYC Uber driver off. He quickly pulled over and said, “You should not do that. Do not do that.”
“We were sitting on opposite sides of the backseat,” Pichl explains. “At one point we leaned over and pecked kiss, very fast. He started yelling at us that we were disrespectful and inappropriate and that he wants us out of his car. We were going back and forth trying to understand.”
A video posted to social media by Iovine shows the moments after the NYC Uber driver, Ahmad El Boutari, booted the women. Both women can be heard asking the driver what the “issue” is as they are outside the vehicle. Boutari refuses to offer an explanation outside of insisting that they were “disrespectful.” He also says what they were doing was “illegal.”
“You don’t do that here in the car. You are not allowed to do this,” he demands.
Watch the homophobic incident with the NYC Uber driver:
The Manhattan couple filed a complaint with Uber, which contacted the pair, apologized and said the company would fully refund their ride. “Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience. We are investigating and will take appropriate action,” an Uber spokesperson has said in a statement.
“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,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explains, adding, “It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will do everything we can for that not to repeat.”
“We were in shock. Definitely very shaken and upset. We always thought we lived in this untouchable New York City bubble where LGBTQ is so accepted,” Pichl said. “We never thought something like this would happen to us. It was a good lesson to show it can happen to you anywhere.
“It didn’t feel real.”