PinkNews exclusive
Adidas has confirmed that it will leave in place a ban on the word “gay”, which prevents people from adding the word to its range of customised trainers.

Adidas allows users to customise various models of its trainer before purchasing, using an online system (miadidas) which filters certain words.

As well as the word “gay”, the online system for customising trainers also bans the words “lesbian”, “bisexual”, “trans”, and “homophobia”, as well as actual offensive words such as “faggot”.

PinkNews reader Gary Lloyd wrote to the online shop team querying why the word “gay” would be blocked.

In response he was told by the online shop team that the ban would remain in place.

The reason the sports giant gave was that it blocks people from using the word in the negative way.

An Adidas spokesman admitted to PinkNews that the ban is “a restrictive measure that unfortunately prevents both genuine and disruptive users from experiencing the miadidas offer. It is the sad reality of the society we live in.”

He did go on to say: “However, it is not our intention to bracket words such as ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ into the ‘bad words’ column, but in a largely automated system, the fear is that the word ‘gay(s)’ could be easily pre-fixed by ‘I hate’ and therefore we might find ourselves in an equally difficult situation. The word ‘straight’ is far less likely to be abused.

“The aim was to put in place some safety measures that prevent abuse by an inconsiderate and ignorant minority, rather than restrict the liberties and freedoms of expression from genuine users.”

The spokesman did not address a question by PinkNews on the fact that the name Gay is fairly common. NB. Adidas used to sponsor athlete Tyson Gay, before his sponsorship was suspended in July 2013.

On the fact that Nike iD allows users to use the words “gay” and “lesbian”, the Adidas spokesman said he was unable to comment.

NikeID

Nike iD allows users to use the words “gay”, “lesbian”, and “trans”

The Adidas spokesman said: “It is difficult for me to comment on other brand’s set ups for their equivalent services unfortunately, but that said, I can say that we are regularly reviewing, updating and optimizing our settings to further improve the user experience and that we appreciate consumer feedback. We take these things very seriously and I will ensure that this is passed on to the relevant teams in Global who will in review what changes need to be made.”

Two weeks ago, faced with a similar controversy, Coca-Cola pulled the plug on a ‘virtual coke’ website after a row erupted over the site filtering the word “gay”.