Column: The ongoing LGBT struggle

The complaint against an affectionate same-sex couple went too far

On Oct. 11, in Brighton, England, two girls were asked to either stop being affectionate towards each other or to leave the Sainsbury’s grocery store they were in by a security guard after a customer filed a complaint. The Huffington Post wrote that the woman who reported the incident told the security guard that she was “concerned” about her child’s safety and the girls’ behavior was “disgusting.” The couple has since said that they only gave each other a “light kiss” on the cheek. The BBC stated that Sainsbury’s did not directly employ the security guard.

This incident is extremely disheartening, to say the least. This couple was simply minding their own business in a grocery store on a normal day, and they were attacked for expressing their emotions. They were hardly showing any fondness at all toward each other, besides the standard couple public affections (holding hands, small kisses, etc.). They should not have been reprimanded by someone they did not even know because they were displaying their love.

The woman’s complaint justifications are even more absurd. How is it possible for a child’s safety to be in danger by two people that are displaying their love for one another in a completely harmless way? If this same-sex couple was instead a straight couple, I am positive that this woman would not even take a second glance. What’s even more upsetting is that the security guard took the side of the woman who complained. Security guards are meant to promote peace and dispel disruption, not take the side of the aggressor, as was what happened here.

According to The Guardian, Sainsbury’s privately apologized to the couple and offered to give £100 ($161) to the charity of their choice. This is inadequate. These two girls had to go through public humiliation and a dismissal of their sexuality, and Sainsbury’s, a multi-million-pound corporation, seemed to refuse to take full responsibility for this incident.

In response, the student’s union of Sussex University (the university Annabelle Paige, one of the girls in the couple, attends) and other local groups in Brighton staged a “Big Kiss In” on Oct. 15. The BBC said that around 200 people turned out for the event. The groups wanted to celebrate all kinds of relationships through this public demonstration. They also asked Sainsbury’s for a public apology, urged them to make a more significant donation to a charity that fights homophobia and recommended that the chain reviews their equality and diversity training for their employees.

It is important to note when and where this incident happened. Brighton, England is known as the “gay capital” of the country. It is typically very welcoming and accepting towards the LGBT community. The original event happened on National Coming Out Day as well, a day intended to celebrate the coming out of anybody that identifies on the LGBT scale. The fact that this confrontation happened in an accepting town on a celebratory day should open our eyes to the injustice that surrounds us.

Amid the ongoing celebration of even more states and countries legalizing same-sex marriage and bringing equal rights to the LGBT community comes the story of two young girls who were chastised for loving each other, and the acknowledgement that we have a longer battle to fight than we previously thought.

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