MS: "Sexual orientation" not allowed in XBL profiles

Xbox Live policy boss responds to "offensive" Lesbian banning

Microsoft has responded to last week's controversial suspension of an Xbox Live user, for stating that she was a Lesbian in her profile.

Speaking via official mouthpiece Major Nelson's podcast, Xbox Live policy boss Stephen Toulouse said that expression of "sexual orientation" is not allowed in Xbox Live profiles - but the gay row is "not an easy problem to solve"


"This week we received or saw a report on The Consumerist involving a gamer, I believe they said her name was Teresa, who had experienced some harassment by some Xbox Live users but then found herself suspended because the expression of her sexual orientation was in her profile.

"The harassment I want to stress is absolutely out of line," he said, adding that "the policy right now is that for text-based fields - Gamertags and profiles - is that the expression of relationship preference or sexual orientation is not allowed.

"Whether it's straight or anything... it's not where we feel is the right place for that. You can of course absolutely do it vocally in in-game vocal chat - that's perfectly fine. Part of the reason there is that you can provide some context for what you're saying.

"It's not an elegant policy, it's an objective policy but that doesn't mean that everyone's going to experience it in the same way," he added, making note of the copious amount of mail he receives calling him "various horrible variations on homophobe".

"I want to stress that this isn't something people are universally happy with," he said.

"This summer we took a look at what we could do about it and one of the proposals was 'why don't you stop banning those words, why don't you just let 'gay' be expressed'. So we thought 'ok, that's a reasonable request. Let's go look at the data'. And we found that somewhere between 95% and 98% of the time the use of the word 'gay' was as an insult. Like 'that's gay', 'you're gay' or 'Joe's gay' - something's that's definitely against our overall terms of use."

"It's certainly not an easy problem to solve but we hear very clearly from the community and we're going to look at what we're going to do about it," he said. "It's certainly not us trying to enact some form of formalised bigotry."