Google's push for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships in countries like Poland has drawn the ire of critics, who suggest the company should address basic human rights violations elsewhere.
“I am afraid that Google can’t distinguish between discrimination, tolerance and promotion,” Fr. Maciej Zieba, the director of Krakow’s Tertio Millennio Institute, told CNA July 17.
“In my opinion, it would be much better if Google with the same zeal will concentrate on violations of human rights in many countries of Asia and Africa where elementary human rights are violated.”
On July 7 in London, Google executive Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe told the Global LGBT Workplace Summit that Google’s Legalize Love Campaign will develop initiatives around the world as part of “a very ambitious piece of work.”
“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,” he said.
The campaign will focus on countries like Poland, which does not recognize homosexual couples, and Singapore, which criminalizes homosexual acts.
A July 8 cache of the company’s diversity home page reads “Google believes that LGBT rights are human rights. We are partnering with organizations around the world to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia.”
The internet giant, however, has since modified how it is presenting the campaign. The company's Warsaw office recently hosted politician and homosexual activist Krystian Legierski for “an office-wide talk and discussion lunch on the importance of civil partnership laws.”
The page now has language that echoes Palmer-Edgecumbe’s statement.
Fr. Zieba was struck by Google’s initial use of the language of belief. The promotion of belief, he said, will be “a kind of ‘missionary’ work.”
“But this form of missionary work in the twenty-first century looks anachronistic and to run it from abroad is a symptom of bad taste,” he added.
The priest cited discrimination against women, religious persecution, lack of freedom of speech and persecution of political opposition in other countries as more important causes.
He also rejected the contention that Polish Catholics are bigoted.
“Catholics ought to be against any form of intolerance or discrimination and overwhelming majority of Polish society share this view,” he said, citing “representatives of sexual minorities” in the national parliament and in media.
Polish-American Catholic commentator George Weigel also criticized Google’s campaign, saying it means “nothing good” for the defense of marriage and public morality.
“I don't see why it's any of Google's business how Poland defines marriage, which is defined by nature, not by Internet providers (or governments, for that matter),” he told CNA/EWTN News in a July 14 e-mail.
He said gay activism in Poland has been “the same as elsewhere,” meaning “a tiny minority has successfully sold the false notion that homosexuality is the equivalent of race for purposes of civil rights and human rights law.”
Weigel said that Catholics in Poland and the U.S. should write companies that support homosexual political agendas and express “their opposition to this propaganda.”
The Google initiative cites the company’s work in “Pride celebrations” in U.S. cities and Sao Paolo, Tel Aviv and Warsaw. Its partners include the Human Rights Campaign, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and Stonewall.
Guest speakers at the Google Legalize Love Conference included Peter Tatchell, a U.K. activist with a history of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian action. In April 1998 he and other activists disrupted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon.
In 2004, he and other activists, using abusive language towards churchgoers and clergy, blocked the entrance to Westminster Cathedral and prevented Catholics from entering Palm Sunday Mass.
He has opposed religious freedom protections for religious agencies, including Christian adoption agencies that wanted to place children only with married couples. The lack of these protections caused the closure of many Catholic adoption agencies in England.
Tatchell also threatened to make a citizen’s arrest of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the United Kingdom in 2010.
A Google statement said that the campaign aims to “promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books,” CNN reports.
CNA sought comment from Google but did not receive a response by deadline.