WATCH: A Calgary man has taken to social media after he says a cab driver threatened to kick him out of a cab after he kissed another man. Erika Tucker reports.
CALGARY – Nolan Hill was born and raised in Calgary, and said he’s never been as “disrespected” as he felt on Saturday night after taking a cab home from Stampede grounds with a friend.
Hill said the two men were at Nashville North, and left Stampede grounds around 11 p.m. to head to the city’s northwest in a Calgary United Cab. He said they mostly talked throughout the ride, but after he kissed his friend in what he called a “very simple peck on the mouth,” the cab driver became upset.
“The cab driver said, ‘No, you can’t do that in my cab.’ And my friend said, ‘Excuse me?’
“He said, ‘No two men cannot be kissing in my cab. It’s disgusting.’ He said if we did it again, he would kick us out of the cab.”
Hill said his friend became visibly upset, and the two asked to be let out at the next exit instead of their original destination. Hill said when his friend told the driver they wouldn’t pay because of what happened, he started to drive away.
“He refused to let us out without paying, which was the scariest part,” said Hill. “So I said, ‘We’ll pay.’ We paid. We got out of the cab, and went to find a different cab. The driver got out and was yelling at the next driver we were approaching that ‘these men were kissing.'”
Hill said his friend was so upset, he threw a toonie on the dashboard at the end of the ride. He said that caused the driver to yell out that he’d been assaulted.
Since then, Hill has taken his complaint to the city using 311, a police officer with the Diversity Resources Unit, and the cab company itself. A tweet from Calgary United Cabs apologized to Hill and asked him to send in an email with the full details of the incident from his perspective.
“We don’t tolerate these kinds of comments,” said Calgary United Cabs manager Naeem Chadry. “If any driver is committing these types of things, we would never allow the driver to drive for our cab company.”
Chadry said the company is waiting to speak to all drivers who were in Hill’s area on Saturday night. He said the surveillance video from inside the cab will be reviewed to find out exactly what happened as part of the investigation, “then our company will make a decision about the driver.”
Hill also took his story to social media, with a Facebook post that’s generated dozens of shares and comments as of Monday afternoon. He’s been in touch with the Diversity Resources Team of the Calgary Police Service, which does community outreach to “improve awareness and understanding” between members of Calgary’s communities.
“Our role is to build relationships with communities in Calgary, and be that point of contact between those communities and the Calgary Police Service,” said Sgt. Garry Woods. He said the team has different portfolios for groups who are new to Canada, people with disabilities, as well as a sexual diversity portfolio.
“So what we can do is certainly work with the complainant, act as a broker, help with resources (whether within CPS or community agencies), provide them with guidance, moral support–whatever they need–and be that point of contact with CPS,” said Woods. “If there is an investigation, we’d help the investigating officers.”
Hill also plans to file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission for what he described as a discriminatory refusal to provide a service.
“I understand cab companies don’t necessarily want people going too hot and heavy in the back –it’s not appropriate,” said Hill. “In no world do I think what he and I were doing was inappropriate—they were quick peck kisses—the same thing you’d see in a public mall with straight couples or gay couples.”
Hill said he’s been a member and activist with Calgary’s queer community and never explicitly been called out for being affectionate with a partner in his life. He’s not interested in pursuing criminal charges against the driver, but hopes to raise awareness about the discrimination he faced.
“You can’t control when people are hired whether they’re going to do that, and you can’t force people to accept a belief system they don’t agree with—if he doesn’t—that’s his prerogative. But in providing the service he does—we were not breaking any laws or rules, damaging his cab, assaulting him—we weren’t doing anything other than being ourselves. And in Canada that’s something we have a right to do, and we’re very lucky for that.”