Filipino E-sports league Garena E-Sports has announced today in a ruling update that only one lesbian or transgender player is allowed per team per day in their women only Iron Solari competition. Garena explains themselves by saying:
“For any events we do, we always want to make sure we are able to have an inclusive environment where no one feels left out, and of course for everybody to enjoy. On this angle, we believed that allowing more to be eligible to join is obviously the answer and as many of our female teams have expressed — Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members are their friends too. On the other hand, for any competitions, we seriously look at ensuring there’s a fair level playing field for all participants. And there are arguments and concerns from other participants who disputes that Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members may probably have some unfair advantage.”
While arguments to exclude transgender women from women’s only events are unfortunately quite common, it is baffling that Garena plans to limit lesbian access to the tournament as well. This, combined with their statement above, suggests that Garena is attempting to be apolitical and take a ‘compromise’ position that they hope will satisfy both sides, without actually seriously examining either side’s arguments. It is hard to think of a legitimate reason for banning transgender and lesbian women from a video game tournament other than just discrimination, but there is also notable that no limits on bisexual women are present, suggesting that Garena didn’t think through this ruling particularly much.
The penalty for violating the ruling (whether knowingly or not) would be a 1-year ban from all Garena-run events even if the discovery of the violation takes place after the event, so if you’re gay or trans you’d better hope that none of your teammates are in the closet, because when they come out you could be earning yourself a neat little ban.
Riot games has stated on their twitter that “LGBT players are welcome at official LoL tourneys. We’re working with partners to ensure consistency with our values across all regions.”, and while Riot doesn’t have the best track record with LGBT issues they do tend to be quick to respond when the credibility of their tournaments are in question. Garena’s ruling isn’t likely to last long.