Gay rights group on Live bannings: We won’t hide in a virtual closet

By Patrick Garratt, Friday, 27 February 2009 07:33 GMT

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Both Microsoft and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) have posted articles on the current Xbox Live policy of not being able to express sexual preference in profile data, the latter saying it won’t allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) people be kept in a virtual closet.

“We’re truly in a new era,” said the organisation.

“And with new technologies, come new challenges. LGBT people have fought hard for years to come out of real-world closets – we’re not willing to accept virtual ones.”

Xbox Live mod boss Stephen Toulouse put up this on the matter last night, reiterating the fact that Microsoft is actively working on the issue.

He also explained why the policy is in effect at all: simply, over 95 percent of the use of the word “gay” on Xbox Live is intended as a slur.

“We’re not some monolithic corporation trying to establish social mores,” he said.

“We’re not enforcing censorship or bigotry. In fact harassment of gamers of any type be it homophobia or racism or other, is expressly forbidden and my team will take action against it, up to and including a permanent ban.

“It’s a tough problem, but for the past few months we’ve been engaged with internal and external community representatives to help solve it. I don’t have anything to announce about it other than we’re working to try and provide the capability for people to more clearly express themselves in ways that are difficult to misuse.”

The whole situation blew up again this week when a lesbian user, “Theresa,” was harrassed by other gamers then banned by Microsoft for expressing her sexual preference in her Live profile.

Microsoft wants to talk to you, Theresa.

“Theresa from the Consumerist article, if you’re reading this, I don’t have your Gamertag or any information about you at all, the article was extremely vague,” Toulouse added.

“I’d love to get your feedback and talk to you about how we can make the experience better. Please email me at Stepto@microsoft.com.”

Thanks, Roybott.

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