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Uber and Lyft drivers more likely to cancel on LGBT passengers

Emma Powys Maurice October 1, 2019

A new study has proved inherent bias against LGBT+ passengers by Lyft and Uber drivers (Pexels)

A new study has proved LGBT+ people routinely face discrimination from Uber and Lyft drivers, who cancel their journeys almost twice as frequently as with straight passengers.

The study “When Transparency Fails: Bias and Financial Incentives in Ridesharing Platforms” revealed that LGBT+ people and black people were the most likely groups to be cancelled on.

Professors Chris Parker and Jorge Meija conducted the study by creating passenger profiles with a picture of a rainbow flag, suggesting that the rider would be LGBT+ or an ally.

They also created profiles with pictures of black riders and names often perceived as black, such as Keisha, Latoya, Rasheed, and Jamal.

In a study of 3,200 journeys, they determined that the LGBT+ or ally “customers” were canceled on almost twice as much as those without the rainbow symbol.

“We know that LGBTQ riders face discrimination with these rideshare apps, but we thought that it was an interesting little twist, that even just signalling your support for the LGBTQ community could result in a canceled ride,” Parker told NBC News.

(Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty)

Similar cancellation rates were seen during peak and non-peak hours.

The inherent bias was even worse with the study’s black riders, whose journeys were cancelled nearly three times as often as white riders.

However, unlike LGBT+ passengers, they were less likely to be cancelled during peak hours, suggesting that the increased cost of the trip was enough of an incentive to accept the journey.

Although the study only proved drivers’ inherent bias before a LGBT+ person enters the car, there are LGBT+ people have often complained of discrimination once inside an Uber or Lyft.

Uber drivers have been accused of giving customers low ratings because they are LGBT+, and there are numerous examples of LGBT+ couples being thrown out of taxis for public displays of affection.

In Australia two men said they were kicked out of an Uber over a simple kiss on the forehead. This also happened with two lesbians in New York, and in the same city an Uber driver allegedly dragged a gay man down the street.

And the discrimination isn’t limited to passengers, with many LGBT+ drivers facing abuse as well. In Portland, Oregon, a trans driver recently quit after a brutal attack from a passenger left her fearing for her life.

More: Lyft, rideshare, taxi, uber

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