Google launches global campaign for LGBT rights

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Google is launching a worldwide campaign to promote LGBT acceptance.

Dubbed “Legalize Love,” the campaign will focus on countries and regions that have laws criminalizing same-sex relationships or homophobic cultures. According to several media reports, the campaign is initially focusing on Poland and Singapore but will eventually spread to every country where Google has operations.

“It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work,” said Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the company’s head of diversity, in announcing the project at an LGBT Workplace Summit in London on July 7. “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 will work with other organizations to lobby anti-gay governments to change their laws. Speaking as part of a panel discussion at the conference, he singled out Singapore as a place that would benefit financially from adopting a pro-equality stance.

“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,” Palmer-Edgecumbe said.

Palmer-Edgecumbe added that homophobia has hampered Google as it strives to build a globally mobile workforce.

“We have had a number of instances where we have been trying to hire people into countries where there are these issues and have been unable to put the best person into a job in that country,” he said. “Conversely we have had to move people out of countries where they have been experiencing homophobia to a different location. And we are also having to support staff in those countries in terms of relationships with the government and homophobia they are experiencing outside of the office.”

Fellow panelist Bob Amnnibale, an openly gay executive Citi, praised the Google initiative.

“The fact that Google is so virtual and its appeal is very wide and young demographically means it can help spread messaging very, very quickly,” he said.

Google’s has long been at the forefront in its support for marriage equality. The company condemned California’s Proposition 8 and this year displayed a Valentine’s Day Google doodle featuring same-sex couples.