Toronto taxi driver denies homophobia allegations made by passenger
Published Saturday, November 3, 2018 8:46PM EDT Last Updated Saturday, November 3, 2018 9:45PM EDT
A Toronto taxi driver accused of kicking a man out of his cab for being gay is denying the allegations, claiming he cancelled the ride due to the passenger being unruly.
Abdi Hussein said he was waiting for fares outside Flynn’s of Temple Bar on King Street early Friday morning when he picked up Travis Paul.
Hussein claims Paul was drunk and getting increasingly upset as the ride ensued.
He said decided to kick Paul out of his cab because of the way he was behaving, not because he had anything against his sexuality.
“He was using the F-word 100 times. More than 100 times,” Hussein said Saturday.
“That was not me discriminating against anyone. I take every different person, any religion, any colour, I don’t discriminate (against) anybody.”
Paul, meanwhile, believes otherwise.
Speaking to CTV News Toronto on Friday, Paul said he hailed the cab after having a few drinks with friends and struck up a conversation with the driver.
At some point, he said he mentioned his boyfriend.
“About $10 into the fare, he just kind of said, ‘You don’t have to worry about the fare, this is where you can hop out,' kind of thing,” Paul said.
It is at that point Paul began recording the ordeal on his phone.
In the video, Hussein can be seen opening the passenger door and asking Paul to get out.
When Paul asks if he’s being denied a ride because of his sexual orientation, Hussein can be heard in the video saying, “No, I did not say that.”
Paul asks Hussein the question repeatedly.
Later in the video, Hussein can be heard calling the police.
Toronto police confirmed they received a call at around 2:42 a.m. from a cab driver who said his customer was refusing to leave his cab. The call was cancelled after the passenger left the cab, police said. Officers did not attend the scene and no report was filed.
Hussein maintains that it was Paul’s behaviour that made him cut the ride short.
He said his car’s dashboard camera is activated by movement and that it started recording when Paul started kicking his seat.
“I told him, ‘Mister, there is a camera here. Everything is recording. You need to calm down,’” he said.
Hussein tried to provide proof of those claims to a CTV News Toronto reporter, but after several attempts, the video footage could not be downloaded.
The longtime cab driver said he was frightened and claimed Paul was even making racist pronouncements.
“He said, ‘I’m Canadian.’ He used the F-word. ‘I’m Canadian.’ The man was discriminating,” Hussein said.
Paul’s video, which runs for about three minutes and 30 seconds, was posted to Facebook and has since been viewed more than 45,000 times.
Paul admits to referring to Canada toward the end of the video, but denies mentioning it at any other point in their conversation.
“In response to that, I’ve never been racist in my life. It’s not a way I live my life,” he said on Saturday.
“This has been terrifying. This has been anxiety inducing.”
Hussein works for an independent company licensed through the City of Toronto.
The city’s municipal licensing and standards division said it takes matters like this very seriously and that officials are actively investigating the incident.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Janice Golding