Garena E-Sports, known for the popular online game “League of Legends,” has come under fire for a new policy that discriminates against gay and transgender women.
Garena E-Sports, a division of Garena, an Asia-based publisher and tournament organizer for vastly popular online combat game League of Legends (LoL), came under fire Tuesday, February 3 for publication of a policy regarding “Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women” and their all-female LoL league “The Iron Solari.” The discriminatory policy raises awareness of codified discrimination regarding the league.
The post indicates that their previous tournament banned gay and transgender women, and received complaints from straight cis women who wishes for their gay or trans friends to play as a result. One might ask why gay and trans women are lumped together or banned at all, but Garena’s self-contradictory policy points to why.
For any events we do, we always want to make sure we are able to have an inclusive environment where no one feels left out, and of course for everybody to enjoy. On this angle, we believed that allowing more to be eligible to join is obviously the answer and as many of our female teams have expressed — Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members are their friends too. On the other hand, for any competitions, we seriously look at ensuring there’s a fair level playing field for all participants. And there are arguments and concerns from other participants who disputes that Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members may probably have some unfair advantage.
According to Garena, some female members of their women-only league believe that gay and trans women have special abilities over straight and cis women that provides them an unfair advantage in the game. More crucially, the company takes these alleged participant beliefs seriously enough to warrant continuing their de-facto ban with heavy restrictions laid out in the policy; restrictions whose text specifies the company itself endorses these unsubstantiated, discriminatory beliefs (note the bolded section.)
1) Each team will be allowed to have a maximum of one (1) Gay/Transgendered woman for the entirety of the tournament day. Therefore, teams cannot do the following: Team_A’s first game will be 4 female members and 1 gay, then on Team_A’s second game, they will have 4 female members and replace with another gay or transgender member.
2) Any team who has violated the above provision, regardless if intentional or otherwise, whether discovered during the day of the event or some time after, will have all their team members (the female members as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered women member) sanctioned with a 1-year ban on all Garena-organized events, including subsequent Iron Solari Tournament.
First off, all teams are only allowed just one gay or trans woman per team, no more. Secondly, any team discovered to contain more than the maximum of one gay or trans woman will be punished with a year ban for all team members at any events Garena organizes. Thirdly, Garena’s official tournament policy explicitly states “the female members as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered women member” in a dehumanizing statement which either declares gay or trans women to not be truly female or a special, lower class of female (it’s not specific on that.)
Suffice it to say, this move attracted the ire of the LGBTQ+ community through Tumblr and Twitter, prompting Riot Games, the League of Legends developer company, to release a tweet in response to the incident:
With the power Riot has concerning its game, it should be only a matter of time before such policies are struck down and players of all gender identities and sexual orientations can equally get a shot to dominate a game or two on the world’s largest multiplayer online battle arena, an eventuality we can all hope for.