TWO women were allegedly physically threatened and subjected to homophobic abuse by their Uber driver in Melbourne over the weekend.
Lucy Thomas and her girlfriend were catching an Uber home and chatting about an upcoming AFL game when their driver John began calling them “faggots”.
“The driver said he hated football because it was a bunch of “faggots” jumping around and touching each other,” she told the Star Observer.
“I told him that I understood the spirit of what he was saying but that the word was deeply offensive to me and a lot of other people.
“He then asked us – why are you worried, are you gay?”
Thomas’ partner immediately said yes, while Thomas told him it was irrelevant.
It was at this point that Thomas said a cloud shifted over John, and his demeanour turned from confident to threatening.
“It’s very wrong, but because we had long hair and were effeminate he saw us as straight women, and he hadn’t realised we weren’t until that point,” she said.
The trip was a short, two-kilometre ride between Collingwood and Richmond, during which time Thomas said John made a number of homophobic remarks alongside slurs towards the Indigenous community.
When they arrived at her house, John was still making homophobic comments towards the pair and the doors were locked, prompting her to pull out her phone and record the blunt end of the interaction.
— Lucy Thomas (@lucylockit_) June 5, 2016
“What are you going to do, give me a low rating and make a complaint,” John can be heard asking in the audio clip.
“When I write my report about two faggots who don’t like being called faggots, what’re they going to say?
“Get out of the car… if you don’t I’ll get out and drag you out.”
As Thomas and her girlfriend left the car and walked towards the front door, she said John stayed idle, watching the pair walk inside.
She has since complained to Uber and reported the incident to police.
“The person I spoke to at Uber was really empathetic and affirmed and how horrible the experience must have been for us,” she said.
However, as per Uber’s policy, to maintain the privacy of its drivers, Thomas won’t be told the outcome of the complaint.
“I’m not asking to find out who he is, but I just want to make sure he’s accountable,” she said.
“I spoke to a police officer in Fitzroy who was wonderful, he said he’s going to make sure he chases this up.”
Thomas is the Chief Executive of Project ROCKIT, a national youth-driven movement against bullying and hate.
“If it had been a couple of gay men it potentially been a lot different,” she said.
“The driver didn’t see us as a threat until he realised we weren’t straight.
“The only reason we decided to share this is because we want the community to know these issues are still a problem… given the current climate in Australia, it’s now more important than ever that LGBTI people are visible along with the discrimination they face.”
Update: Since reporting the incident, Thomas has revealed that the driver in question has been fired from his position with Uber.
THEY SACKED HIM 🙌🏽🌈✨ thanks @UberAus
— Lucy Thomas (@lucylockit_) June 6, 2016