Members of the public attended a kiss-in at a Sainsbury's in Brighton yesterday in protest over a gay couple who were told to leave the store after exchanging a kiss on Saturday.
Hundreds took part in the event and the aisles of the supermarket were full of protesters kissing each other. Crowds headed to the New England Street branch in Brighton around 6pm yesterday and entered the shop around 6.30pm for the demonstration.
The protest was organised by the University of Sussex's student union after student Annabelle Paige and her girlfriend were told to leave Sainsbury's by a security guard who had received a complaint from another customer.
The 22-year-old student told The Times: "I gave her a very brief light kiss, in no way was it like we were standing in the middle of Sainsbury’s making out.
"Out of the blue this security guard comes up to us and says that we can either leave and take it outside or continue our shop without being affectionate – as it was making other customers uncomfortable."
Sainsbury's later apologised for the incident, stating that it should never have happened and offered a donation to charity of Annabelle's choice.
However, in a statement speaking before the protest, Michael Segalov, communications officer at the SU, said Sainsbury's apology and offer to donate £100 to charity was an inadequate response.
"Tomorrow 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 tomorrow in Brighton for a celebration of affection, no matter who they are."
During the protest, attendee Fiona Spechter told the Guardian: “[it] made me realise how I can take it for granted that I can hold my girlfriend’s hand in public. I’ve lived in Brighton for a long time and it’s normal here, so when something like this happens, it’s really shocking.”
While Sainsbury's issued a statement saying they were more than happy to hold the event, shopper Sonja Turner was apologised to for any inconvenience caused, to which she replied that the shop “don’t get it. It’s been the best shopping experience I’ve ever had.”