9 Jul 2012

Google supports decriminalisation of gay sex, clarifies that same-sex marriage not a focus

The Internet was abuzz over the weekend with reports that Google has launched a worldwide push to legalise same-sex marriage but it has since clarified that it is not the case, a Google spokesperson told Fridae on Monday.

While Google’s Legalise Love campaign does indeed support the decriminalisation of homosexuality and elimination of homophobia worldwide, it is not a push for same-sex marriage as reported by various Internet websites.

Googlers from over a dozen countries marched at the World Pride parade in London on Jul 7, 2012. Photo: Flickr

The confusion over the focus of the campaign appears to have originated from a news story posted on gay networking site Dot429.com. It reported on Satursday: "Google is launching a new campaign called 'Legalize Love' with the intention of inspiring countries to legalize marriage for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people around the world."

It further added that the campaign officially launches in Poland and Singapore on Saturday, July 7th. CNN on Sunday reported that Legalise Love “will focus on countries such as Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.”

When contacted by Fridae for more information, a spokesperson at Google’s Singapore’s office said the tech giant has no specific plans for Singapore or any other country, and that their campaign which involves partnering with organisations around the world has been ongoing. The California-based company has supported Singapore's Pink Dot, a public rally to support LGBTs, in 2011 and 2012; Trevor Project, an US-based organisation which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT youths as well as numerous other LGBT-related initiatives and LGBT pride events worldwide.

The campaign is in fact part of the company’s diversity programme that aims to create a work environment where employees can “bring their whole selves to work.”

Google has said in a statement posted on their site:

“Though our business and employees are located in offices around the world, our policies on non-discrimination are universal throughout Google. We are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion efforts, but there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality. Legalise Love is our call to decriminalise homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.

“At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our 60 offices around the world, we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, as they do at work, and for LGBT communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are.”

Google's Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe was quoted by Dot429.com as saying: “Singapore wants to be a global financial center and world leader and we can push them on the fact that being a global center and a world leader means you have to treat all people the same, irrespective of their sexual orientation."

Same-sex sexual relations between men is illegal in Singapore although the law is generally not enforced.

Palmer-Edgecumbe was speaking at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London on Friday last week. As part of the World Pride celebration in London last weekend, Google held their first ever ‘Legalise Love’ Conference involving 100 representatives from LGBT advocacy groups, employee networks, and diversity organisations.

Google is known to support gay rights. In 2008, the company’s co-founder Sergey Brin announced that the company officially opposes Proposition 8, a California ballot proposition that would make same-sex marriages illegal via a post on the company’s blog. In 2010, the company began providing additional compensation to gay and lesbian employees to cover a cost that they must pay when their (same-sex) partners receive domestic partner health benefits, which heterosexual married couples do not pay.

Meanwhile at Facebook, the company showed its support for gay marriage when the company earlier this month debuted same-sex marriage status icons that best reflect a person’s relationship status. In the past a bride and groom were used for straight couples who were married while no such icon was available for gay married couples. The move was first spotted when Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes married his partner Sean Eldgridge. In February 2011, it added civil unions and domestic partnerships to relationship status options.