A carpark in Germany has unveiled special “diversity spaces” which appeared to be reserved for LGBT+ and migrant drivers.
Hanauer Parkhaus GmbH (HPG) created three dedicated spots at its underground car park in Hanau city centre. The wall behind the cars is painted in rainbow colours with bold lettering that says “Vielfalt Parkplätze”, or diversity spaces.
At the inauguration of the parking spaces, Thomas Morlock, city councillor and chairman of the supervisory board of HPG, explained that the aim was to help people who feel “a particular need for protection”.
“The sometimes homophobic and xenophobic reactions make it clear that the action was right and necessary,” he said, according to the German paper Berliner Zeitung.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the authorities intended to monitor whether people who park in the spaces are actually part of the LGBT+ community or migrants, though HPG said a camera would monitor the car park.
The measure immediately met with strong criticism online as Germans questioned why such an initiative was needed.
“Child and old age poverty, single mothers at their financial limit, pensioners who have to live on bottle deposits and leftovers from garbage cans. But for city councillor Thomas Morlock in Hanau there is nothing more important than setting an example for tolerance,” complained one Twitter user.
Others were in favour of the idea in theory but suggested the diversity spaces would simply attract more threats than they prevented. “Okay, the intention is good. But I wouldn’t stand on it, because you’re asking someone to slit open the tires,” warned one.
The confusion prompted Morlock to clarify that the diversity spaces are not necessarily intended “for a separate group of people” but are free to be used by any driver who wants to take a position against hatred and exclusion.
HPG wants to set a “conspicuously colourful symbol” for “diversity and tolerance,” he said. “The parking spaces are not reserved, they are intended for everyone.”