Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
People have reacted with fury to the treatment of two lesbian women who were ordered by a security guard at Sainbury’s supermarket in Brighton to stop kissing or leave the store.
An anonymous woman had approached the security guard to make the complaint after Annabelle Paige, an English Literature student at nearby Sussex University, was seen kissing her girlfriend. The woman had said that the kiss was ‘disgusting’ and that she was ‘concerned for the safety of her child’.
Paige told The Times that she gave her girlfriend a light kiss, after which a security guard came over to say they could either stop displaying signs of affection or leave the shop. Paige added: ‘To be honest, I thought she was joking. I’ve never experienced something like that and at the same time as we were in the store there were heterosexual couples being as affectionate, if not more so.
‘I’m so shocked and upset about it. I get that if another customer is uncomfortable that’s a bad thing … but the problem is the other customer was in the wrong and essentially being homophobic. The guard didn’t seem to understand that, I was absolutely humiliated.’
The incident happened on Saturday – National Coming Out Day – and although Sainsbury’s has apologised and offered to donate £100 to charity, the Sussex University Students’ Union (SU) says this is not enough, adding that they must make mandatory training available to all staff on equality and diversity issues. They have also called on the store to ‘make a substantial donation to a charity that works to end homophobia in our communities’ and issue a public apology for the way they have acted.
Michael Segalov, Communications Officer for the SU, said of the kiss-in, which takes place at the New England Street branch on Wednesday at 6pm: ‘Today will be a show of strength and togetherness from the Brighton community, at which we will show that there is no place for homophobia in our community.
‘We call on Sainsbury’s to take their responsibilities seriously, and display a serious commitment to the cause that they claim to support. Come down and join the hundreds of us in Brighton for a celebration of affection, no matter who they are.’
The Students’ Union will be stewarding the event and ensuring that there can be no concerns for the safety of either children or adults. A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told The Independent: ‘We have always welcomed everyone into our stores and will do so as usual on Wednesday,’ adding that the incident ‘should never have happened – it is clear that Miss Paige and her partner were not behaving inappropriately and we are very sorry that they were treated in this way.’
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