Two gay men were savagely attacked on Saturday night and pelted with antigay slurs at a Papa John’s restaurant — simply for hugging.
According to LGBTQ Nation, the man who attacked the pair claimed to be the owner of the restaurant.
The men spoke to U.K. newspaper the Mirror on Monday under condition of anonymity because they fear reprisals. The two friends met at a bus stop in Middlesex and walked to the pizza restaurant around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. They’d bought a bottle of wine and were getting some food to take out.
“My friend told me he had been promoted at work and I gave him a hug,” said one of the men, a 27-year-old recruitment professional, “when the (worker) said something along the lines of ‘we don’t want none of that behavior in here’ and ‘you’re too close for my liking.'”
“I said, ‘Don’t speak to me like that’ and the guy said ‘I’ll slap you silly,'” he recounted. “That’s when I started recording.”
The mobile phone video shows a man in a Papa John’s T-shirt with his face pixelated out. He calls the man filming a “gay bastard”
“Hey, that’s enough,” said the man with the phone. “You watch your language.”
“You get out of my store,” the employee responded. “Get the hell out of my store. I’ll break that phone and make you eat it.”
The altercation spilled outside, with the employee and what appears to be a colleague kicking and pushing the men toward the door. Outside, the man who claimed to be the store owner slapped the phone out of the 27-year-old’s hand and its screen shattered on the pavement.
The men showed the video to the Metropolitan Police who are reviewing the case.
Papa John’s issued a statement saying that the employee has been suspended.
“We are disappointed by this incident and have a zero tolerance policy towards any abuse of our customers,” a spokesperson said. “We will cooperate with the police in their investigation and will consider any appropriate action when this is complete.”
One of the victims told the Mirror he was “devastated” by the incident.
“He was quite scary. It was really upsetting. I’ve been very anxious since – constantly worried – I haven’t been the subject of abuse before,” he said.
Watch the video, embedded below: