Airbnb is looking into a complaint of discrimination at a property in Dallas, where the host refused to rent to a male couple.
On Twitter, Curtis Kimberlin Jr. shared the exchange his partner had over the weekend with the Airbnb host. Kimberlin's partner, Jonathan, noted that the pair were coming to Dallas for a wedding and that Kimberlin, a Dallas native, would be showing Jonathan around.
The use of the word partner apparently set off an alarm for the host, who responded, "So I'll be hosting two men sleeping together ... right?" The host, whose name was redacted in Kimberlin's tweet, then told the couple they couldn't stay at the property.
\u201cLove trying to book an @Airbnb with my bf in Dallas and having this be the first response to our booking. \ud83d\ude43\u201d
— Curtis Kimberlin Jr (@Curtis Kimberlin Jr)
Responding to a query from online publication Travel Noire, which focuses on travelers of color, an Airbnb spokesperson said, "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has no place on Airbnb, and we take reports of violations of our nondiscrimination policy incredibly seriously."
"We suspended this listing and host from the platform as we investigate further, and we have reached out to our impacted guests to offer our support," the spokesperson added.
There have also been other complaints of antigay discrimination as well as racial bias at Airbnb properties. "I once got a listing removed from Airbnb because they said they wouldn't allow same sex couples in the description," one Twitter user wrote in response to Kimberlin. She said it was "insane that they could even post that in the first place," but she was "glad Airbnb did the right thing by removing it." Another commenter shared that he was turned away when a property owner "saw my brown face" after his white fiance had made the reservation.
Airbnb hosts are independent, but the company expects that hosts who use its platform adhere to certain standards. In December, it released a racial audit it had conducted through its Project Lighthouse initiative, developed in partnership with the racial justice organization Color of Change and with input from other civil rights groups. It found that upward of 90 percent of people in all perceived racial groups had their reservations confirmed, but there were still some disparities.
"The widest disparity exists between guests perceived to be Black and guests perceived to be white; guests perceived to be Black were able to successfully book the stay of their choice 91.4 percent of the time, versus 94.1 percent for guests perceived to be white," according to an Airbnb press release. Airbnb announced a series of steps to address disparities, such as investigating reasons why reservations were denied and offering resources to hosts about how to be more inclusive.
"Airbnb is built on trust, and we will continue to innovate and design new products and initiatives that increase acceptance and combat bias," the company's cofounder and CEO, Brian Chesky, said in the press release. "Important insights, including data generated through Project Lighthouse, will drive our work to make Airbnb a place where everyone feels welcome. We can't do this work alone, and our partners have given us incredibly valuable feedback. I'm deeply grateful for their insight."