Yelp has added a new option to allow businesses to advertise the fact that they do not discriminate.
There have been a string of high-profile cases in the US over the past few years where business owners, typically citing evangelical Christian beliefs, have denied service to gay people on ‘moral’ grounds.
The issue has become contentious and is likely years away from a solution, with Republicans in Congress still firmly opposed to federal LGBT anti-discrimination protections.
From today, however, online review and listing service Yelp has added a facility for businesses to confirm they have pledged to be ‘Open to All’ and will not discriminate against minority groups, as part of a national campaign.
Yelp SVP Luther Lowe explained: “We’re introducing the ‘Open to All’ attribute today, allowing businesses to distinguish themselves as a safe and welcoming place to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability.
“When visiting the Yelp page of a participating business users will be able to see whether or not the business is ‘Open to All’. Just look for it under ‘More business info,’ where you’d typically check if they accept reservations or not.”
He explained : “Launched in response to the recent ruling on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, The Open to All campaign aims to step in where legislation falls short and help protect consumers from discrimination.
“Every day, consumers face varied degrees of discrimination. Beyond the LGBTQ+ community, this also unfortunately exists for many minority communities in our country and we are equipping consumers with the information they need to confidently patronize any place of business.
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“Today, many businesses are already pre-identified as ‘Open to All’ on Yelp, including New Day Craft, Luna Grill and Garden Fresh Restaurants.
We encourage business owners who are proud to be ‘Open to All’ to take the pledge and opt-in to the attribute on your Yelp business page,
“Business owners who make themselves as ‘Open to All’ will also receive a window decal to display in their storefront.”
The Open to All campaign includes more than 175 major businesses.
Organisers explained: “Open to All is nationwide public engagement campaign to build understanding and discussion about the importance of our nation’s nondiscrimination laws—and the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All.
“Originally, the campaign launched to focus attention on the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While the Supreme Court’s decision in that case affirmed the importance of nondiscrimination laws, it did not end the discrimination that so many Americans still face every day based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion and/or disability.
“As Americans go about their daily lives, from going to the gym to hanging out with friends, we shouldn’t have to worry about whether we will be welcome, or whether we will face hostility or even be denied service—like the couple recently kicked out of an Uber simply because they’re gay, Muslim women who were ordered to leave a café, people of color facing abuse and violence in a diner, or people with disabilities being harassed in a restaurant.”
Yelp previously added a gender-neutral bathroom finder, in response to the anti-trans backlash across the US.