People carrying rainbow flags packed the aisles of a Sainsbury’s Local store to stage a mass “kissathon” in protest after a gay couple was ejected from the supermarket for holding hands.

Thomas Rees, 32, and boyfriend Joshua Bradwell, 25, were reprimanded earlier in the week by a security guard at the store in Hackney, east London, after a customer deemed their holding hands to be ‘inappropriate’.

Same-sex couples were invited to head down to Hackney Sainsbury’s to stand in solidarity for equality. Protesters cheered when Rees and Bradwell joined the crowd to kick-off the event at 6:30pm. Cars driving past the supermarket also beeped their horns in support.

Mr Bradwell told the Press Association: “The number that turned out was absolutely insane, we were not expecting this at all.”

His partner, Mr Rees, added: “We were right to be holding hands because when someone questions your behaviour in such a direct manner you can’t help but analyse how you are perceived by society.

“When your community come behind and say ‘you were right and you are right’, all that does is amplify your feelings. We were right to complain and do what we’ve done and fight those people who said we were wrong.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome in our stores but occasionally we make mistakes.

“We are working hard to make sure lessons are learnt.”

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