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  1. ITV Report

Gay couple told they were 'touching inappropriately' by security guard for holding hands in Sainsbury's

Thomas Rees with his boyfriend Josh Credit: Thomas Rees

A gay couple who held hands in Sainsbury's said they were told they were "touching inappropriately" by a security guard.

Thomas Rees and his partner Josh had just finished shopping at the Hackney Road store on Monday when they say they were approached by a security guard who said someone had made a complaint about their behaviour.

Mr Rees, 32, said he was "shocked and dumbfounded" by the security guard's actions.

Mr Rees, an account manager, told ITV News: "My boyfriend and I went to our local Sainsbury's holding hands as we normally do, just general public displays of affection and we didn’t notice anything untoward or weird.

"In East London it's not uncommon but we noticed the security guard staring."

Mr Rees and his boyfriend had just finished paying when he said the security guard called them over "with a finger" and asked them to follow him outside.

He said his initial reaction was that he questioned whether he had accidentally put something in his pocket and it must be a mistake.

Mr Rees said: "When we got outside I was ready to apologise and then he said a customer had complained about our behaviour.

"My blood boiled. I was shaking and dumbfounded and unable to respond. He kept repeating the customer felt our behaviour was inappropriate."

Mr Rees is calling on the supermarket to ensure all staff and contractors have diversity training.

Mr Rees added: "They need to be articulate and communicate effectively with the public. If he had training he wouldn’t have handled it in the way he did."

Mr Rees said a Sainsbury's customer service agent had since offered him a £10 gift card to apologise.

He said: "I wanted an apology, not messages on Twitter. It's not about the money."

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s told ITV News: “We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh.

"We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores. We will take appropriate action once we’ve concluded our investigation with our security contractor.”