XBL, PSN full of "rampant homophobia"

Gay rights group raps anti-gay sentiment in online gaming communities

Gay rights group, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) have responded to yesterday's hoopla over an Xbox Live user being banned for stating she was a lesbian.

Speaking via the organisation's blog, GLAAD said it's working to address the "rampant homophobia" in online gaming communities such as Xbox Live and PSN, by meeting with the platform holders.


"Since the beginning of this year, GLAAD has been in active conversations with Microsoft, specifically with Stephen Tolouse, about Xbox Live and how their policies affect LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transvestite] people," the organisation said.

"After talking with both Sony and Microsoft, GLAAD began to notice a common thread in both of the gaming giant's policies - they were both put in place to fight and/or prevent defamation. It sounds counter-intuitive to some, and to even us at first, but upon further review and discussion, the issue at hand became clearer.

"The online world provides unprecedented anonymity for people," it added. "They can, and do, say what they want. Unfortunately, in online gaming that has often translated to homophobic, racist, and misogynistic attacks.

"Sony, Microsoft, and many others have been trying to address this by putting policies in place to prevent subscribers from using the online shield of anonymity to harass, verbally assault, and generally defame others. Are they the best policies? No."

The gay rights group had particular concern over PS3's Home, and worked with Sony to address certain issues, it said. "When Sony launched the beta for Playstation Home, we fielded concerns from GLAAD supporters that the system was not LGBT friendly.

"It was being reported to us that when people used the chat feature and would type in certain words like "gay" or "lesbian", they would come up as asterisks like '***' or '*******.' Typing and sending 'I am gay' would actually send 'I am ***.' Also, people found they were banned from using a similar set of words to name "clubs" in the virtual world," it said.

GLAAD says its working to address the "rampant homophobia" in online gaming communities and it's even planning to host a panel this summer in Silicon Valley.

"We're truly in a new era. 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," it said.

"As GLAAD makes progress, we will be engaging the community in a vibrant discussion and work together to find the best solutions to make online gaming safe and enjoying for us all."