A New York City taxi driver refused service to a gay couple after seeing them hug in the back seat of his vehicle, the New York Post reported on November 4. Late in the evening of November 2, Paul Bruno and his partner Erick Ruales hailed a cab at 13th Street and First Avenue, only to be kicked out of the car two blocks later by the taxi driver, Medhat Mohamed, after they started snuggling.
According to Bruno, Mohamed, who had apparently glanced the men in his rear view mirror, began shouting “You guys have to get out of the taxi! Hugging is not allowed in here!” He then stopped his vehicle and insisted that they exit. After being rudely dumped on the street, Bruno and Ruales called 311 and filed an official complaint against the driver with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which is currently investigating the allegations.
The alleged incident is not only a violation of TLC policy but also a violation of city and state equal rights laws. If Mohamed is found guilty he will be fined $200–350 for theTLC violation alone. It is not clear whether Bruno and Ruales intend to pursue other charges. Word of the incident reached New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was quoted as saying "the taxi driver’s behavior—if it is as reported—was a disgrace,” and that “somebody’s orientation has absolutely nothing to do with whether they can ride a taxi. That kind of attitude doesn’t fit with what this city’s become.” Meanwhile, Mohamed justified his actions with a novel argument: "I wanted to pay atten- tion to getting them to their destination instead of worrying if they were going to have sex or not," Mohamed told the Post. Informed by the Post of Mohamed’s comments, Bruno countered, “I don’t know if it was a personal or religious thing. But it’s never OK to deny any- one a ride, especially when it’s such blatant and direct discrimination.”