Gay couple were turned away from an Airbnb, pointing to bias issues

  • Curtis Kimberlin Jr. and his boyfriend booked an Airbnb in Dallas to go to a wedding.
  • He said the host canceled after he said, “So I’m going to host two men who sleep together…right?”
  • It’s the latest biased issue from the short-term rental giant.

A couple heading to a wedding in Texas had their Airbnb reservation canceled after the host expressed discomfort with their sexuality, the Dallas NBC 5 outlet reported on January 19.

Curtis Kimberlin Jr. and her boyfriend, Jonathan, sent a booking request to the host, whom NBC 5 identified only as Pete. Jonathan followed to explain when the couple would be arriving and leaving.

A screenshot Kimberlin tweeted on January 7 said the host replied, “So I’m going to host two men who sleep together…right?” Kimberlin told NBC 5 that the host then canceled the couple’s booking.

Kimberlin’s tweet, which has more than 19,000 likes, sparked outrage and support from other Dallas hosts.

Airbnb told Insider the host is no longer on the short-term rental site. “Discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place on Airbnb,” a representative said. “We can confirm that this host and listing has been removed from our community.”

Pete told NBC 5 he couldn’t access the couple’s criticism from other hosts and saw them as a security risk.

Airbnb Community Policies prevent hosts from discriminating against guests based on race, gender, sexuality and other identities.

But hosts’ actions don’t always comply with Airbnb policy. Research published in 2017 by economists at Trinity College in Ireland found that Airbnb hosts were less likely to accept gay couples than the other pairs. The American association Color of Change has found that customers perceived as black were less likely to be accepted than guests perceived as white.

In December, Airbnb published a 22-page report about discrimination on its platform. He described new initiatives, including the extension of the “Instant Booking” feature, which bypasses the need for hosts to approve booking requests.

Kimberlin told NBC 5 that he and his boyfriend accepted accommodations for Hilton’s wedding weekend after the hotel chain’s account responded to Kimberlin’s tweet.

Kimberlin said he was shocked by the host’s actions but not entirely surprised. “I’m also a bit used to having to hide parts of myself to calm conservative reactions to my identity,” Kimberlin said.

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