Microsoft's Anti-Sexuality Policy Sparks Outrage

Dennis Faas's picture

Gay marriage is always going to be a heated debate. But what rights do gays have when it comes to their video game consoles? Microsoft was recently forced to change a policy that prevented gay gamers from stating their sexual orientation in their Xbox Live profiles.

Xbox Live is Microsoft's popular online platform for its console, the Xbox 360. When anyone links their Xbox 360 to a cable or a broadband Internet connection, they're automatically prompted to fill out an online profile that can be seen by other gamers, including friends and foes alike. Although users aren't allowed to play against other people initially, for about $60 a year they can register for a "Gold" account that will allow them to compete with other players from around the world.

For a long time, Microsoft has prevented anyone from entering their orientation as part of their profile online. That means a gamer entering "gay" or "lesbian" will automatically find their entire account suspended.

Last week, a Microsoft representative told MTV the intent was to keep the online community free of all sexuality, not just homosexuality. "It is true that as a matter of policy, the expression of relationship preference in Gamertag profiles and tags is not allowed across the board, whether that's heterosexual or other." (Source:

However, that policy hasn't been sitting well with people online. One gamer, known as Teresa, complained to that when she had entered her orientation into an account, other gamers harassed her and then reported the profile to Microsoft. At that point, the company suspended her account.

Last year an account holder was suspended simply because the word "gay" appears in his real name, Richard Gaywood. (Source:

Microsoft's representative stated that the anti-sexuality policy was put in place to prevent personal attacks online. Unfortunately, it might actually be encouraging a homophobic kind of behavior.

Microsoft still hasn't changed the policy, despite the outrage surrounding Teresa's case. Suggestions so far have included gender and orientation boxes that allow a user some freedom towards expressing themselves.

"I think that's a great idea," Microsoft's rep replied. "That's the type of thing we're looking at as a solution... I can't talk about future plans, except to say we want to provide the capability for our users to express relationship preference or gender without a way for it to be misused." (Source:

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