LGBTQ Creators Sue YouTube, Alleging It Discriminates Against Them

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Eight LGBTQ+ YouTube content creators are suing the platform over alleged discrimination.  (MLADEN ANTONOV)

Eight LGBTQ YouTubers are suing the video-sharing platform, alleging it discriminates against them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, alleges that the Google-owned company unfairly tags LGBTQ content as offensive or sexually explicit, which limits a video creator's ability to advertise or to make money from advertisements on their videos.

"All we're saying here is the LGBT community wants a level playing field when it comes to content restriction, monetization of content and the right to advertise content," said Peter Obstler, the attorney representing YouTubers Chris Knight, Celso Dulay, Cameron Stiehl, Bria Kam, Chrissy Chambers, Chase Ross, Brett Somers and Lindsay Amer.

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A YouTube spokesperson said their policies don't target LGBTQ content.

"We’re proud that so many LGBTQ creators have chosen YouTube as a place to share their stories and build community. All content on our site is subject to the same policies," Alex Joseph, a YouTube representative, told Buzzfeed News.

YouTube, based in San Bruno, has repeatedly come under fire for its treatment of LGBTQ content creators.

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Most recently, the platform was criticized for saying videos by conservative comedian Steven Crowder containing homophobic and racist jokes about journalist Carlos Maza did not violate its policies. The next day, the company took away Crowder's ability to make money from his channel.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized in June to LGBTQ content creators over that incident, The Verge reported.

Conservatives have long complained that tech companies discriminate against them because of their views. Increasingly, liberals and LGBTQ people are arguing that their viewpoints are being discriminated against, too.

"The whole nature of content moderation online, the whole process of editorially assigning what content gets more promotion or less, creates conflict," said Santa Clara University Law Professor Eric Goldman. "The losers of that conflict are always going to feel like they didn't lose on the merits, that they lost based on bias. So that's why everyone feels like they're biased."