A LESBIAN couple were refused permission to get into a Worcester taxi - saying the shocking experience "denied us our dignity".
The duo were walking down The Cross holding hands and attempted to get into a cab after a night out in the city.
But they were left dismayed after the driver directed them towards another vehicle, before taking another customer directly behind them instead.
Council bosses have called it "a hate crime" and say they want to track down the driver responsible, who could be banned.
The couple say they want to remain anonymous and will only go by the names 'Emma' and 'Sarah' to protect their identities.
But they have contacted St John's Councillor Richard Udall, and gave this newspaper their thoughts on it to avoid others suffering the same experience.
Sarah said: "We should have taken it further at the time - the more I think about it, the more angry I become.
"All we were doing was holding hands at the end of a good night in town, all we wanted to do was get home safely.
"By denying us the right to use his taxi, he denied us our dignity and could have put us at risk.
"I hope the publicity from this will help ensure no other people are discriminated against and denied a taxi in Worcester."
Her partner Emma said "the hurt was real", calling for decision makers in the city to take extra steps to stamp out discrimination.
"Sarah and I love each other – why should we be made to feel like second class citizens because of our love," she said.
"Respect our love and don't hate us because of who we love."
Cllr Udall has passed the details of the incident onto Worcestershire Regulatory Services and the city council's licensing committee.
He said: "Emma and Sarah are just like any other young couple who wanted to enjoy the nightlife of Worcester and get home safe.
"A taxi driver, we don’t know who, tried to deny them that basic human right.
"I hope full guidance will be given to the trade to ensure they're reminded of the rules and are warned about the consequences of any future discrimination against anybody, for whatever reason.
"Prejudice has no place in modern society."
The driver was reading a newspaper at the time, and was parked at the front of The Cross taxi rank.
The couple say he refused them permission to get on, only to pick someone else up moments later and drive off.
They have not reported it to police, saying they want the city council to offer guidance to the trade instead.
Niall McMenamin, from the city's regulatory services department, said: "This kind of incident is a hate crime and will be treated as such.
"We have had an incident very similar to this where we've had a licence revoked.
"We'd like to know who this person was so we can question them."
Mohammed Sajad, from Worcester Taxi Drivers Association, said: "I certainly haven't heard about this - drivers do not refuse anybody, at the end of the day business is business.
"I want to meet this couple and speak to them - all that area is covered by CCTV, let's get it out and have a look through it.
"To be honest this sounds hard to believe, I want to see this couple and talk to them about this."