Revers signed a petition to Google demanding to correct pathologizing LGBT+ terms in Google Translate


LGBT Initiative Group Revers became one of eight Russian LGBT human rights organizations and initiatives that signed a formal request to the CEO of Google Inc. and Alphabet Sundaru Pichai. In our letter we asked him to explain the corporation’s position on the usage of pathologizing terms in relation to LGBT people. Our main requirement was to make adjustments to the scripts of the Google Translate service so that the words homosexuality and homosexual would be translated from English into Russian exactly – as “homosexuality” and “homosexual”, respectively, since for many years Google Translate has translated these terms incorrectly.

You can read the text of the open letter in English languahe below. If you also want to join us in those requirements, sign the petition to Google using the link.

To Mr. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet

Dear Mr. Pichai!

On behalf of the human rights LGBT+ organizations and initiative groups in Russia, we would like to appeal to you with this petition regarding the functioning of one of the Google services.

We are talking about the Google Translate service, which is used by 500 million people. It translates over 100 billion words a day, including such words as homosexuality and homosexual, which in Russian have exact equivalents – “гомосексуальность” and “гомосексуал”, but the service perpetually translates them into Russian as “гомосексуализм” (“homosexualism”) and “гомосексуалист” (“homosexualist”).

Over the years, the sole option for these incorrect words’ translation automatically gets into many Russian translations of foreign texts, littering the informational space with pathologizing expressions. These equivalents got into the Russian lexicon from the medical dictionary, where it appeared at the Soviet times when homosexuality was treated as a painful pathology and at the same time as a malicious deviation from established social and ideological norms. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization excluded homosexuality from the international classification of diseases back in 1990. Since then, the use of the pathologizing terms “homosexualism” and “homosexualist” is incorrect and offensive.

We believe that the Google Corporation is the leader in the global digital and social transformation of humanity. The more serious is the responsibility that the company bears for the quality of its services. We consider that by its actions Google is causing hurt to the Russian-speaking LGBT+ communities, rooting in the Russian segment of Internet and in the public consciousness incorrect and offensive language in relation to people of homosexual orientation, and, therefore, participating in discrimination against the whole Russian speaking LGBT+ community

We kindly ask you personally and also your colleagues to clarify the position of the company on the use of pathologizing nouns in relation to LGBT+ people, and to make changes to the scripts of the Google Translate service, which should start translating “homosexuality” and “homosexual” as “гомосексуальность”, “гомосексуал”, as well as “bisexual” as “бисексуал”.

Best regards,

Moscow LGBT Initiative Group Stimul
Legal and Social Support Charitable Foundation Sphere (the Foundation was added to the so-called list of “foreign agents” by the Ministry of Justice in 2016)
‘Coming Out’ LGBT-group
Interregional Social Movement Russian LGBT Network
Human to Human Initiative Group
SNoW-Initiative (Saint-Petersburg Non-binary Workgroup)
Revers LGBT Initiative Group
Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival

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