Legality of accepting users only of a particular ethnic group


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I'm in the process of launching a matchmaking service that aims to serve a particular ethnic group. I'm wondering if this in any way might constitute discrimination. I know there are countless dating sites that are for a particular race/religion, but are they allowed to exclude someone who doesn't fit their targeted race/religion ?

If say on my site "We'll help you find a suitable (insert ethnicity here) partner?". Is this ok ?

I'm talking about Canada and US to be specific.

Legal USA

asked Jun 4 '13 at 13:11
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Sherif Buzz
462 points
  • There are definitely sites that do it such as http://www.blackpeoplemeet.com - They market themselves specifically for black people, but I don't think they would kick out people who are not black. – Ryan Doom 7 years ago
  • @Ryan I think the "kicking out" is the problem, not the market designation. See my answer for the link to the eHarmony story. – Littleadv 7 years ago

3 Answers


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You have a very strong precedent: eHarmony was sued for not allowing gay people on site and segregating the gay and straight dating sites. Your suggestion is basically the same, so based on the eHarmony precedent it looks like you will lose a discrimination case in the US. Although it may be that no-one will sue you, and then no-one cares what you do, the government won't come after you on its own (i.e.: this is probably not going to be enforced without a complaint and a civil action against you).

Worth noting that the eHarmony suites were settled, i.e.: there was no court decision whether the company did or didn't do something wrong.

Note that I'm not a lawyer, and this is in no way a legal advice. You should have a (good!!!) lawyer go over all of the legal issues with you and address each and every one of them.

Note that in the US there are also state laws, and what may be allowed in one state may not be allowed in another. So you might be required to provide different services based on the registration of your users, or where your company is organized. Again - talk to a lawyer.

answered Jun 4 '13 at 14:22
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Littleadv
5,090 points
  • Thanks, I'm aware of the eHarmony issue, i think the issue was they didn't allow a gay person to join. I haven't heard of anybody being sued for promoting themselves as being focussed on a particular ethnic/religious niche. That really is my question - I'm not gonna stop anybody from using the service. – Sherif Buzz 7 years ago
  • Oh, in that case I don't think there should be a problem. You can target any niche, as long as anyone can join even if they're not the ones targeted. Again, verify with a lawyer. – Littleadv 7 years ago

1

Theres no way for that to be legal in ANY western country, seriously you are willing to perform the simplest form of race discrimination. Not letting black/white people in your bar/or site (doesn't matter) is the very thing that is disallowed by anti-discrimination laws. You have no way of getting away with it. The competitors will be looking for legal way of shutting down your business, and nothing is simpler than this.

However there's no need to disallow anyone, you can just market your site to a specific race(as mentioned before), and make sure others will feel unconfortable on your site. Chose a domain name, that already specifies who is welcome ie.: blackandlonely.com (theres already a such site, and the front page features two black people having great time, most white/asian will get the idea, that this site is not for them, and thats completely legal)

im not your lawyer, blah blah

and also, require uploading picture, to earn some privileges.

answered Jun 5 '13 at 00:36
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Jani Kovacs
75 points
  • thats what i'm talking about in the second paragraph. I even checked http://blackandlonely.com/'s terms of use, and verified, that there's no such term disallowing anyone from any ethnic group. – Jani Kovacs 7 years ago

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I would just look at what sites such as ChristianMingle, Jdate, ethnic dating sites, etc. do and do the same. If they allow non-Christians, non-Jews, non-this or that, then you probably should as well.

answered Jun 5 '13 at 09:03
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User6492
1,747 points

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