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Google pushes for gay rights with 'Legalize Love' campaign

5:27 AM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Google is stepping up its activism on gay rights issues in nations with anti-homosexuality laws on the books, a company official announced Saturday as he kicked off Google's new "Legalize Love" campaign.

The campaign will focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

"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 executive Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe said at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London, according to a report on Dot429, a networking site for LGBT professionals. "It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work."

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) will focus on developing alliances with local companies and on supporting grassroots organizing efforts. Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Ernst & Young have already signed on as partners.

A U.S.-based Google spokesman cast the campaign as a framework for supporting the already-ongoing activism efforts of Google employees around the globe. Its focus will mostly be international, especially targeting parts of Europe and Asia, he said.

"'Legalize Love' is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books," Google said in a written statement.

Google is frequently lauded by gay-rights groups for its workplace policies, which include full benefits for same-sex partners. It made this year's "best places to work" list issued by the Human Rights Campaign.

Some news reports said the 'Legalize Love' campaign would push for worldwide legalization of same-sex marriage, but a Google spokesman called that inaccurate. The campaign's focus is on human rights and employment discrimination, he said.

Google has spoken out before on same-sex marriage issues, most prominently when it came out in 2008 against California's "Proposition 8" ban on same-sex marriage.

"We see this fundamentally as an issue of equality," Google cofounder Sergey Brin wrote on the company's blog, denouncing the "chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees." The ban narrowly passed, but was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

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