In an attempt to foster inclusion and respect, popular holiday accommodation site Airbnb will now require all users to sign up to a Community Commitment.

The Commitment reads:

I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community – regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age – with respect, and without judgment or bias.

Starting from November 1, when users login to their Airbnb accounts, they will be shown the Commitment and automatically asked to accept it.

Users who decline to agree to the new terms will no longer be able to host or book accommodation using Airbnb, and will be given the opportunity to cancel their account. Cancellation of an account will lead to automatic cancellation of already-booked trips.

“Our shared commitment to these principles enables every member of our community to feel welcome on the Airbnb platform no matter who they are, where they come from, how they worship, or whom they love.” – Airbnb’s Non-discrimination policy

Saltshakers, a Christian ethics action group based in Melbourne, reacted to the announcement, saying, “Whilst that might seem ‘reasonable’ to some people on the surface, this is often problematic since the accommodation is often just a single room in a private home.”

The post goes on to give examples of UK Bed & Breakfast providers who have been subjected to complaints and court proceedings for refusing to provide accommodation to a non-married heterosexual couple, or a homosexual couple. The implication drawn is that accommodation providers who do not support sex outside of male-female marriage should be free to refuse service to those who engage in those activities.

The Saltshakers objection mirrors debate in the UK and US about whether or not Christian bakers can legally refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

In Northern Ireland, Ashers Bakery – owned and operated by evangelical Christians – was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a pro-gay-marriage themed cake in 2015. In October 2016 they lost their appeal against the conviction.

“This is really about forcing ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ on everyone! Toe the line or you’re NOT welcome!” – Saltshakers

While these questions have yet to reach Australian shores – thanks to another delay in the legalisation of same-sex marriage – Airbnb’s skyrocketing popularity (with over two million listings and a staggering 60 million guests worldwide) brings the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation front and centre for many Australians.

Saltshakers believes that “Airbnb is actually discriminating against ALL the people who aren’t prepared to sign the statement.

“This is really about forcing ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ on everyone! Toe the line or you’re NOT welcome!”

Agreement to the Community Commitment includes tacit agreement to Airbnb’s Non-discrimination Policy, which says, “The Airbnb community is committed to building a world where people from every background feel welcome and respected.”

Airbnb set about achieving this aim through policies that encourage inclusion and respect.

“Our shared commitment to these principles enables every member of our community to feel welcome on the Airbnb platform no matter who they are, where they come from, how they worship, or whom they love,” the policy reads.

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