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Airbnb to ban users who do not expressly agree to policies on discrimination.

Editorial Staff

Airbnb, already facing difficulty in relation to unlicensed rentals, has issued an e-mail to all its customers requiring them to enter into a specific commitment relating to discrimination. If users do not specifically accept the policy, Airbnb says, "you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb." But the policy has aspects that some will find difficult or, arguably, illegal to accept.

Here is the Airbnb e-mail in its entirety

The Airbnb Community Commitment

Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we're asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.

What is the Community Commitment?

You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.

How do I accept the commitment?

On or after November 1, we'll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we'll automatically ask you to accept.

What if I decline the commitment?

If you decline the commitment, you won't be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is canceled, future booked trips will be canceled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won't be able to book any reservations or host any guests.

What if I have feedback about the commitment?

We welcome your feedback about the Community Commitment and all of our nondiscrimination efforts. Feel free to read more about the commitment. You can also reach out to us at...

The commitment, therefore, requires one person to accept many options with a single tick. So the policy compels Muslims and Jews to accept persons who do not follow halal or kosher rules and, equally, prevents them accepting bookings only from those that follow those rules. It forces those who believe that homosexuality is a sin, and, even more worryingly, those who are in countries where homosexuality is illegal, to accept bookings from homosexuals.

The policy includes a "nationality" bias: there are those who, for many justifiable reasons such as international conflict, would not wish to have an "opponent" stay in their home. Airbnb accepts bookings where people share their homes: under the policy, a woman living alone is prevented from adopting a women-only guest policy which many are likely to do for both perceived security and because they don't want to meet a man in his underwear when they go to the bathroom.

There are perfectly good reasons for people to refuse guests in wheelchairs: damage to furniture is an ever-present feature of wheelchair use. A walk-up apartment is often unsuitable for someone with disability. Providing accommodation for the disabled may, in some countries, require specific expenditure on e.g. grab handles. Tiled floors are a particular hazard, both in bathrooms and in living areas.

The policy moves the personal "couch-surfing" nature of many Airbnb hosts towards formal apartment rental schemes.

Moreover, renters may not wish to stay in an apartment where they are confronted with religious symbolism of a faith then do not share, a kitchen that is used for meals that break their religious rules and many more reasons why people make a personal preference.

We invite readers to post their views: do you think it right that Airbnb adopt such a policy? Should the same policy apply in all countries, regardless of national law? Should the policy be all encompassing or should it be broken down into different sections? Is it the place of business to impose on its customers policies which may conflict with their legal, moral or religious obligations? Is such a policy against your personal principles, at least in part? Do you object to the creation of a policy? Do you consider the compulsion fair or bullying? Will you accept it or leave Airbnb?

Members can post their comments below.
To sign up click , choose your membership, complete the registration form and pay, via our secure third party platform, the membership fee (individual membership is just GBP20 per annum, plus VAT where applicable).