Google is launching a new campaign calling on countries to ‘Legalize Love’ – making it legal to be lesbian, gay or bisexual around the world.
The campaign, which will officially launch tomorrow (7 July), is likely to start by focusing on Poland and Singapore but eventually spread to every country where Google has an office around the world.
It will tackle places where it is illegal to be gay, or where there are other anti-gay laws or where the culture is homophobic.
Google’s Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe said: ‘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. It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work.’
Google will work with other organizations to lobby the governments.
Palmer-Edgecumbe said: ‘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.’
He outlined the strategy at a Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London today (6 July) hosted by US gay and trans employment experts Out and Equal ahead of World Pride in the UK capital tomorrow.
He was part of a panel discussion at the conference, which was chaired by David Chalmers from British-based international LGBT rights organization Kaleidoscope Trust.
Fellow panelist Bob Amnnibale, an openly gay executive Citi, praised the 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.
Claire Lucas, of USAID, which provides economic development and humanitarian assistance around for the US government told the summit this work reflected a partnership they were creating.
‘We are working with some NGOs and some corporations on a global LGBT partnership,’ she said. ‘The corporations are co-funding with the US government these civil society organizations around the world.
‘What we have found is that a partnership between corporations and the US government is very powerful.’
The USAID strategy will see companies and organizations support grass-roots campaigners on the ground – listening to their needs and helping them push forwards the LGBT agenda in their own countries.
Meanwhile panelist Harry Gaskell, of professional services firm Ernst & Young, also backed the argument for joint working between government, charitable organizations and companies.
‘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 told the summit.
Palmer-Edgecumbe said he believed this would be good for Google’s business.
‘Obviously it is the right thing to do but secondly there is a very powerful business case for us,' he said.
‘We operate in very many countries and have a very 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.
‘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.’
However, all panelists agreed that it was important to tailor their work and listen to people on the ground so it was most effective.
Gaskell said: ‘We have to be very careful about transferring lessons from the UK and US and elsewhere. Taking Anglo-Saxon culture and trying to force it down people’s throats is a very bad idea.
‘Where there are lessons to be learned about what works in the UK we have to think very carefully about how those same approaches will work in other countries.’