A gay couple says a kiss caused them to be kicked out of a Lyft ride.
Ben Martella and Alec Jansen, students at Indianapolis universities, told IndyStar that a driver from the ride-share app was outraged after he spied them exchanging a small display of affection.
The couple was in transit on May 5 from Butler University, where Martella attends, to the nearby town of Broad Ripple, Indiana, when the episode occurred. The driver made the couple leave his car at an Indianapolis intersection at around 5 p.m.
"We basically pecked, nothing out of the ordinary," Martella, a sophomore at Butler, told IndyStar. "He looked in his rear view mirror. He was yelling. We were stunned. We didn’t know the reason for it."
"[The driver] said, 'I’m going to end your ride. I can’t have that in my car. I don’t have that here.’ ... I was really upset. It was a big reaction for such a small display of affection between two guys," he added.
Martella reported the driver's antigay act to Lyft, whose nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation. "Discrimination against passengers or drivers ... can result in deactivation from the platform," the policy reads.
A "Trust & Safety Specialist" named "George" responded to Martella's complaint. He refunded the money for the ride, and but only vaguely said "the appropriate and necessary actions" were taken in an email exchange shared with IndyStar.
When Martella asked if the driver would be fired, "George" said he was "unable to share specific actions taken" because of "our safety and privacy policies." Martella found the exchange to be "very impersonal."
A spokesperson for Lyft told IndyStar that the driver had been "deactivated" for violating the company's "strict anti-discrimination policy." That means he will no longer be able to drive for Lyft.
However, Martella, who was shaked by the incident, is considering contacting the ACLU to pursue further legal action. "There's really nothing I need out of the situation. It’s my fear for others," he said.
At present, the state of Indiana has no nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. However, the city of Indianapolis has an ordinance protecting civil liberties regarding sexual orientation in areas like employment, education and "public accommodations," which may cover ride-share services.