A recent study by Pink News found that LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to have their Uber ride declined than heterosexual people.
When I first discovered this it brought so many questions to mind: How do they know? Should we have to specify our sexuality when creating a profile? Is this Uber’s own responsibility? And, perhaps most importantly, is it safe for LBGTQ+ individuals to be express their identity on public transport?
Many saw the brutal homophobic attack on two girls on a London bus in June this year after they refused to kiss, and the boy who was strangled and forced to apologise for his sexuality on a train in 2017. These may be extreme examples, however this new study suggests that homophobia is a risk on all public transport, limiting the availability and experience for LGBTQ+ users.
Some people argue that it is a person’s right to refuse someone entry to a hotel or club due to religious beliefs.
While people are entitled to their opinions, however, discrimination in this country is a criminal offence; it becomes illegal as soon as these opinions cause the restriction or maltreatment of others.
Another thing which needs addressing is the creation of profiles for public transport apps. In the case of this study, the profiles created had the rainbow flag in their profile, to suggest that the users were LGBTQ+, or at least an ally.
However, in some cases your sexual orientation is a required field of information when signing up to apps or services. This is not just an issue for LGBTQ+ people, but also for people of minority ethnicities or religions, which can hinder employment or transport options. Is this mode of data collection necessary, or is it archaic and a fuel for discriminatory actions, either deliberately or passively?
Is Uber responsible for this? If this was happening in a school, and children were being denied trips due to their sexuality, the school would be responsible for hiring the teacher and allowing the teacher to discriminate, thus they would be expected to take action. Therefore, if Uber employs people who discriminate in their job, the company should be responsible.
However, due to the nature of the company, can Uber regulate all of these prejudices? Many of the drivers are hired online and therefore have no direct contact with employers. Even if it was a traditional job opening, how is something like this addressed when it is so easy for people to hide the truth?
Although many countries are shifting towards a far more accepting culture, and LGBTQ+ rights are celebrated annually on a global scale, there is unfortunately always the underlying threat of homophobia in society. More needs to be done in the private sector as well as the public to ensure customers are safe and free to express their sexuality and gender identity.
Image Credit: BBC News