A Papa John’s employee in Botwelll Lane, Hayes, Middesex became so enraged at the sight of two gay men hugging inside the pizza restaurant that he began verbally assaulting them, calling one customer a “gay bastard” as they were waiting for their food.
The Mirror reports the men, who don’t want to be named for “fear of reprisals,” managed to videotape the incident (which you can watch below.)
Wearing a Papa John’s T-shirt, the employee also asks one of the men if he wants to “shove his mouth on [the other man’s] c***” while challenging them to a fight.
The video, shot on a smartphone at around 11:30pm on Saturday, has been sent to Papa John’s head office.
One victim tells Mirror Online that he’s “devastated” and can’t believe he was subjected to this abuse “in 2016.”
“He was quite scary,” he says. “It was really upsetting. I’ve been very anxious since – constantly worried — I haven’t been the subject of abuse before.”
A spokesperson for Papa John confirmed that an employee has been suspended following an investigation into the incident.
One of the victims explained how the situation unfolded:
My friend told me he had been promoted at work and I gave him a hug, 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’ – that’s when I started recording.”
The video begins with one of the victims asking, “What do you mean you are ‘going to slap me silly’?”
“Let me tell you something, you gay bastard,” says the employee.
“Hey, that’s enough…” says the second victim.
“Don’t you point that finger at me!” the employee shouts. “Get the hell out of my store!”
The customers ask why, with one asking, “Because I am gay?”
“Get the hell out of my store,” the employee repeats, “or I’ll break that phone and I will make you eat it… This is my store, I own it”.
The two customers are pushed out of the store by the enraged employee and a coworker, and one of the victims asks again, “Why did you call me a gay bastard?”
The employee is then seen kicking out at the pair.
“Am I a gay bastard?” one of the victims asks again.
“Yeah, you are,” the employee states.
Warned that he could lose his job, the employee says, “I don’t give a shit.” Then he asks one of the men “would you shove his mouth on your c***?”
“Yeah he would,” the victim responds, “and what’s that got to do with you?”
Then the employee challenges them to a fight.
“Take your coat off, let’s do it now,” he says, and then slaps the smartphone out of the man’s hand.
That’s where the video ends.
Fleeing the scene, the men grabbed a taxi and went to a nearby Tesco garage, where they showed a policeman the video.
The cop has since requested a copy of the video to investigate.
A Papa John spokesperson tells The Mirror, “We are disappointed by this incident and have a zero tolerance policy towards any abuse of our customers. We will co-operate with the police in their investigation and will consider any appropriate action when this is complete.”
“It’s ridiculous in 2016 that I can walk into a shop and be subject to abuse and homophobia,” one of the victims says.
“I respect people and I was disrespected. I don’t care whether it is a franchise. That person should not be working there discriminating against my sexuality.”
A spokeswoman for the Met Police told the Mirror:
Police were on a routine patrol in Hayes Road, Hayes, when they were approached by two men at about 23:00hrs on Saturday, 17 December who reported that they had been assaulted earlier that evening.
The victims said that they were at Papa John’s in Botwell Lane, Hayes, at about 22:45hrs when they were approached by an unknown man who made homophobic comments and assaulted them.
Police attended Papa John’s and arrested a 29-year-old man on suspicion of actual bodily harm at about 00:30hrs on Sunday, 18 December.
He was taken to a west London police station for questioning.
He has been bailed pending further enquiries to return on a date in early February.”
You can watch the video footage here: