Controversy has erupted in London after a gay couple on a first date, Jonathan Williams and James Bull, were ejected from a pub in London's Soho district for kissing, the Guardian reports:
Williams, a journalist for a financial magazine, and Bull, a charity volunteer, said they had been ejected from the John Snow in Broadwick Street, Soho, central London, on Wednesday by a woman – claiming to be the landlady – who accused them of being "obscene" while out on their first date.
The event has triggered a public debate on open displays of affection, how much is too much, and whether Williams and Bull were treated differently because they are gay.
The two men deny having behaved in any unseemly way. "We weren't being over the top; there wasn't anything that would be deemed unseemly," Williams said. "I'm not the kind of person to do that kind of thing in public."
A man claiming to be the landlord asked them to leave:
Bull said he was putting on his coat to leave and had given Williams "a peck on the lips" when the woman, who was wearing a staff uniform, came up to them. "She said we had to leave because we were being obscene. Then the other guy from earlier came over again and said we had to leave now, we 'weren't allowed to do that'." Bull and Williams said the man took hold of Williams's coat lapels as he asked them to leave the pub, and fellow drinkers joined in the pair's protestations of innocence.
The BBC adds: "The John Snow pub and Samuel Smith's brewery, which owns the central London venue, have not commented on the incident."
Said Williams: "We had been kissing but my hands and James's hands were above the table so I don't think it's really a problem. Should I be stopped from kissing my partner in public just because I am not in a supposedly gay area? That is just utterly wrong, surely. We shouldn't ghettoize people. If they want us out then there's a better way of doing it and a polite way of doing it and a way that doesn't make us feel like we have just been kicked out purely for being gay."
Listen to Williams tell his story here.
The controversy grew after Williams posted on Twitter about it, inspiring the creation of the Facebook kiss-ins detailed below.
The Guardian is actually running a live blog about the controversy, detailing developments as they happen.
They report that the couple will go on a second date:
James Bull, one half of the kissing duo who've taken the nation by storm, has confirmed to the Guardian that he and Williams will meet again.
"We'd already made plans for the second date before we got to the John Snow," Bull said.
Cautious of the pressures inherent with conducting a relationship in the public eye, Bull said he would "rather not say" where the rendezvous will take place, but confirmed it will take place at some point after Easter.
A gay kiss-in is planned for the pub tonight. The address is The John Snow Pub, 39 Broadwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 9QP.
A second kiss-in against homophobia is planned for the pub on April 21.