Microsoft re-examining policy on sexual orientation in gamertags

Says saying you're gay is "inappropriate".

Xbox Live policy manager Stephen Toulouse has confirmed the company is taking another look at its policy on gamertags and profiles which express the user's sexual orientation.

As you'll know if you've been following the story (Videogaming247 has the full lowdown), Live users are not currently permitted to reveal whether they are gay or straight in gamertags. One woman recently claimed she was banned for describing herself as a lesbian in her gamer profile.

Speaking to Major Nelson in his latest podcast, Toulouse admitted that there's a problem and said Microsoft is trying to fix it.

"It's not an elegant policy. It's an objective policy, but that doesn't mean everyone's going to experience it in the same way," he said.

"We're taking a look at a way in which we can provide the ability for people to express themselves in a way that can't be misused." Toulouse didn't say what that might be, nor when the issue is likely to be resolved.

He did go on to point out that people are allowed to say they are gay in vocal chat conversations, which is "totally fine", so, er, thanks for that.

So why not just allow people to use the word "gay" in their gamertags and profiles? Because, according to Toulouse, they checked the data and, "Somewhere between 95 and 98 per cent of the time... The use of that word [gay] was an insult." So why not just allow people to use the word "gay", but crack down on people who use it pejoratively?

Major Nelson podcast regular "E" chipped in to argue, "If you're playing Halo 3, you might wind up playing against my 11 year-old son, and when he pulls up your profile, it needs to be appropriate."

He later added, "It has nothing to do with the sexual orientation that was expressed, it's that it's not appropriate to express it there, regardless of what the orientation is."

Meanwhile US organisation the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has confirmed it's been in talks with Microsoft via the GLAAD blog. The post says Microsoft has been "nothing but open, welcoming, and willing to discuss ideas for positive and inclusive changes during these conversations".

For more from Toulouse on this issue, check out his blog.

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Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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