Are we in safe hands if multinationals are custodians of our rights?
OPINION:An eyebrow must be raised when corporate giants decide they are promoting social justice, writes ANTHEA McTEIRNAN
GOOGLE WANTS to “Legalise Love” – and what’s not to love about that? All the search engine giant wants is for it to be legal to be lesbian, gay or bisexual in countries where it has an office.
Google’s Legalise Love campaign, launched last week, begins in Poland and Singapore. Both countries qualify to experience the corporation’s liberational largesse by virtue of the location of a few desks and a water cooler.
For once, it seems some of us are inside the tent urinating towards the exit. But wait, what’s this? A Google spokesperson said the campaign is not “political”.
“Legalise 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,” the spokesperson said. It sure sounds mighty political.
Claire Lucas of US government development agency USAid told a recent lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workplace summit in London: “We are working with some NGOs and some corporations on a global LGBT partnership. A partnership between corporations and the US government is very powerful.” An unnecessary qualifying statement, one might think.
So assorted mega-corporations – including Google – and the US government are the safe pairs of hands we can rely on to combat inequity and discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head? Why haven’t they already started in their own backyards? Where are they going to start? When? Who decides? What if the discriminators have oil?
The late historian RH Tawney got a rare outing in The Irish Times recently. “The continuance of social evils is not due to the fact that we do not know what is right, but to the fact that we prefer to continue doing what is wrong . . . Those who have the power to remove them have not the will, and those who have the will have not, as yet, the power.”
Power – meet will.
Google pushes, the US government shoves and – kerching! – in countries with a Google office, LGBT people will find themselves free to love and free to be. Happy ending? Maybe.
Melinda Gates, billionaire spouse of Bill, with whom she shares a philanthropic foundation, is another demonstrating the “power and will” to get things done.
A keen supporter of women’s right to family planning, Gates was a mover behind last week’s London Family Planning summit, teaming up with the British government and the United Nations Population Fund to push for better access to contraception. Denying women in developing countries access to contraception is “a crime”, she says.