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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Mariam Khan & Sam Elliott-Gibbs

Flat ad asks for 'Christians and Catholics' as 'different religions shouldn't live together'

An advert for a flat has sparked outrage after saying only 'Christian and Catholics' should apply because 'different religions shouldn't live together'.

The listing on SpareRoom was for a property in Stratford, east London.

After a complaint to the firm, a site manager confirmed that the listing broke no rules because “religion wasn’t a protected characteristic.”

The website has since refuted its original message, MyLondon report.

The listing reads: “Hi guys, this room is available immediately, I am trying to avoid different religions so probably if you are Catholic or Christian would suit best, I don’t have anything against other religions but it’s best when we just respect each other and not live with each other.”

An advert listed on SpareRoom for a room in Stratford asked for only “Christian and Catholics” to apply (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The listing goes on to specify they want a 'sociable and friendly' woman.

After reporting the ad to SpareRoom through their complaints process in the app, they said: “We take reports of discrimination very seriously here at SpareRoom, however, in this case, they [the original poster] would be allowed a preference on religion as this is not classed as a protected characteristic.

"Whilst we completely understand your frustrations regarding this, we regrettably would be unable to take action regarding this however I have noted your report in full on the account for this user.”

Under the Equalities Act 2010, 'Religion and belief’ are protected characteristics.

The Government writes on its website: “It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of: age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation."

SpareRoom has since said that there has been a 'misunderstanding' (SpareRoom)

Whilst those looking for tenants or housemates can specify preferences such as not wanting to live with people who eat pork or drink, the listing doesn’t say that.

Instead, it focuses on excluding people specifically because of their faiths not because of the original poster's religious practices.

SpareRoom explained that the original response received “wasn’t explained very well” and that they would speak to the member of the team who had sent it on.

They also advised that they understood that religion was a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010, going on to explain there can be exceptions.

They had asked the advertiser on the original advert to clarify their listing to avoid future misunderstandings.

SpareRooms added: “We’ve looked into this and we’re sorry about the response you received, it wasn’t explained very well and we’ll speak to that member of staff to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

"As you say, religion is absolutely a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 but, under the Act, certain exemptions apply.

“When advertising a room in a property you live in, you’re allowed to state a preference for someone who shares your faith. This preference could be for numerous reasons (e.g. preferring to live with someone who doesn’t drink alcohol), but we’d always encourage the user to include these reasons to avoid misunderstandings (we’ve asked the advertiser to do this).

"If we spot an ad that doesn’t explain satisfactorily, we’d contact the user for clarification.”

Whilst not having seen the original post, StopHateUK said: “We are sad to hear of this example, although clearly, we don't have full details of the case.

"However, given that religion or religious or philosophical belief is defined as a 'protected characteristic' under the Equality Act 2010, it is an offence to discriminate against someone on the basis of faith, (or the absence of it) and therefore a landlord or agent acting on their behalf is clearly in breach of the letter and spirit of the law and risks both prosecution and significant reputational damage.

“In short, it is neither legal nor acceptable to deny equal access to housing provision on the basis of faith or religion.”

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