An Uber driver has been banned from using the rideshare app after kicking a couple out of the car because they are gay.
Kristin Gauthier told said that she and her girlfriend, Jenn Mangan, were traveling to a Zac Brown Band concert in Camden, New Jersey, on Friday when the incident, which was partly captured on video, occurred.
Gauthier, 33, said about four minutes into the ride, she leaned over to Mangan, 38, and said, “Let’s have a great night,” before giving her a kiss on the cheek. This act “set the driver off,” according to Gauthier, who said the driver, identified only as Cynthia, instructed the couple to get out of the car right afterward.
“She looked at us in the rearview mirror and told us to get out of the car,” Gauthier explained. “She said ‘I don’t support that; she’s your girlfriend.’”
Mangan left the vehicle at this point, while Gauthier stayed and began recording the interaction.
“Are you kicking me out because I’m gay?” Gauthier can be heard asking in the Facebook video, which has since been viewed nearly 27,000 times.
“Yes, I am,” the driver responded. “Get out.”
The video then shows the driver attempting to smack Gauthier’s phone out of her hand and telling her that as a driver, she has the right to cancel any ride she wants.
“What is wrong with you?” Gauthier asked the driver. “This is an Uber ride. I’m paying you for a service.”
The driver then threatened to call the police, upon which Gauthier stopped recording the conversation.
Gauthier said she and Mangan were forced to walk about a half-mile home in the rain — and then “decided to take a train to the concert” to avoid having to call another Uber.
That same day, however, Gauthier filed a report with Uber and said she heard from the company within an hour.
“Uber does not tolerate discrimination in any form and we have been in contact with this rider,” Grant Klinzman, a spokesperson for the company wrote in an emailed statement said. “We removed the driver’s access to the app as soon as we were made aware of this incident.”
Gauthier said she didn’t want to make the video public at first, because she cursed in it and was “worried” that doing so would reflect poorly on her. But she said her fears were unfounded, as many people have been supportive of her since she posted the interaction.
“People who don’t agree with gay people have reached out and said that even though they have the freedom to have their own personal beliefs, they wouldn’t kick a gay person out of their car,” Gauthier said. “It makes you believe that it’s a better world than the people who do these cruel kind of things would have you believe.”
Gauthier’s students are among those that have shown their support.
“I’m a teacher and students have been reaching out and saying they’re proud of us,” Gauthier said. “They see the bigger picture.”
This incident is just one of several reported episodes in recent years of LGBTQ people being victimized by taxi or rideshare drivers.
In December 2018, a gay couple in Houston said they were kicked out of an Uber ride after sharing a quick kiss. Then in May, a gay couple in Indianapolis claimed they were booted from a Lyft ride for sharing a “short kiss on the lips.” In June, a gay man said a New York City taxi driver told him, “I don’t drive gays,” and that same month, a lesbian couple claimed they were thrown out of an Uber ride for sharing a “peck.” In perhaps the most frightening incident, a gay man last November claimed a Lyft driver in Miami pulled a gun on him after exclaiming, “I want to kill everyone that’s gay.”
Discrimination against LGBTQ riders can also occur even before such passengers step foot in a car: A 2018 study found drivers are more likely to cancel trips of users who appear to be LGBTQ or LGBTQ allies based on their profile photos on the app.