. – Responding to criticism,
Microsoft (NASD:  MSFT) has changed a controversial policy on its Xbox Live online game
service that prevented users from signing up for Gamertags that expressed their
sexual orientation. The new rules will allow users to describe themselves as
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight.

"Under our previous
policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in
Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or
slurs," Microsoft’s Marc Whitten wrote in an open letter to Xbox Live’s 23
million users.

"However we have since heard feedback from our customers
that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a
part of our Xbox LIVE community. This update also comes hand-in-hand with
increased stringency and enforcement to prevent the misuse of these terms."

In a post on Twitter, Stephen Toulouse, Xbox Live’s director of policy and
enforcement, thanked the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
and the LGBT community within Microsoft’s ranks for helping with the revisions.


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