Saturday marked the launch of an international gay rights campaign by tech giant Google, as the company weighed in to the global fight for better LGBT protections.
Google announced its intention to launch the “Legalise Love” campaign at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London last week, with Singapore and Poland to be its first targets.
“We want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office,” Google’s Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe told the summit.
“It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work.
“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.”
Google wants the campaign to be active in every country in which it has an office. It has 60 offices in total.
Tech commentators initially thought the campaign was a push for marriage equality around the world, but the company moved fast to clarify that it had a broader aim.
“Legalise Love is our call to decriminalise homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
“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.”
It’s not the first time Google has moved ahead of governments on LGBT rights and protections. In 2010, the company began covering the costs that gay and lesbian employees in the US must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits.
Under US law, when a company offers health insurance as a benefit for an employee’s partner, it is tax-free for married couples but taxable income for gay and lesbian couples.
In 2008, the company’s co-founder and president Sergey Brin used a company blog to officially come out in opposition to California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure which successfully banned same-sex marriage in the US state.
Financial organisations Ernst & Young and Citigroup have also signed on as partners to the Legalise Love campaign. Ernst and Young’s Harry Gaskell said at last week’s summit that corporations could have a unique role they could play in pushing for gay rights internationally.
“If you are trying to change something – governments can exert diplomatic power, NGOs can martial facts and arguments – but corporations martial economic power, that is something even the most passive of countries will listen to,” he said.