A mass of protesters carrying rainbow flags took to Sainsbury’s in East London to hold a “kissathon” in protest after Thomas Rees and Joshua Bradwell, a gay couple who had been holding hands in the market, were asked to leave the store.
After the couple had purchased their food, a guard beckoned them outside to inform them that another patron had complained about the couple’s behavior.
Rees expressed shock over the initial incident, saying that it left him “analyzing how I’m perceived.”
Sainsbury’s has since apologized.
“”We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome in our stores but occasionally we make mistakes,” they said in a statement. “We are working hard to make sure lessons are learnt.”
They store also offered the couple a £10 voucher to make amends.
This is the second protest over a similar incident in recent history, following a “big kiss” protest held in a Brighton Sainsbury’s 2 years ago after a lesbian couple was asked to leave when one of the women kissed her partner on the cheek.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) August 14, 2016
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Protestors hold Sainsbury's kissathon after supermarket security guard threw out gay couple holding h… https://t.co/OHVW12rkJf
— Lee Levy (@thekingleelevy) August 13, 2016
As the story has spread, Rees and Bradwell have received an outpouring of support from the international community, culminating in the kissathon this past Saturday, during which protesters danced outside of the market before kissing in the aisles of the store.
According to a spokesperson for Sainbury’s the protest has “been a really great event and an important opportunity for the community to show their support.”
The market also provided the protesters with food and water during the demonstration.