Google recently launched a new campaign called Legalize Love, designed to promote LGBT rights internationally by pressuring governments to decriminalize homosexuality. It’s a natural cause for the tech company, which has historically promoted an open, accepting culture in their own offices worldwide.
In their corporate description of the program, Google says:
At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our 60 offices around the world, we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, as they do at work, and for LGBT communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are.
Despite early reports the program is fighting for the legalization of gay marriage, Google insists “‘Legalize Love’ is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office.”
An employee network of gay Googlers and their friends and allies, called the Gayglers, has chapters around the world.
In June, more than 1,500 Gayglers took part in Pride marches and demonstrations in Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, New York, and elsewhere.
During World Pride London 2012, Google hosted their first Gayglers Summit for LGBT employees, welcoming organization leaders from around the globe to discuss the challenges they face in the upcoming year.
In addition to the Gaygler’s Summit, Google hosted the inaugural Google Legalise Love Conference in London. This brought over 100 leaders from the LGBT community together to work on identifying ways to promote the decriminalization of homosexuality. Guest speakers included Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty Human Rights and Peter Tatchell, of The Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Google added an Easter Egg to the search results page in celebration of Pride 2012, displaying a rainbow ribbon below the search bar to users querying terms such as gay pride, gay, lesbian, or LGBT.
Internally, Google has made changes to employee benefits to better support their Gayglers, according to their Celebrating Pride 2012 post on the Official Google Blog:
“Earlier this year, we enhanced our transgender-inclusive benefits to cover transitioning procedures and treatment in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, which includes coverage for procedures like facial feminization for transgender women and pectoral implants for transgender men. We also increased our lifetime maximum coverage for these benefits to $75K—more than double what it had been previously.”
This past Valentine’s Day, Google raised the hackles of homophobes by including a cartoon portrayal of a gay couple at the end of their “Cold, Cold Heart” video. For a corporate leader in LGBT rights, this wasn’t a case of pushing an agenda, but one of accurately reflecting modern society with an inclusive message for all lovers on Valentine’s Day.
To that end, it’s clear Google plans to continue to lead the corporate world in promoting equality for LGBT people in the workforce, regardless of the country in which they live. The Legalize Love campaign is another step toward that ideal.