French eBay Excludes Gay Couples From Competition

UPDATE: After receiving a number of complaints about their decision to bar same-sex couples from competing in this competition, eBay has released a statement apologizing, and amending their content rules so that same-sex couples can participate. See the email from Richard Brewer-Hay, a Chief Corporate Blogger for eBay, at the bottom of this post.

The French eBay website is marking its tenth anniversary. To celebrate, they’re holding a competition: two lucky winners will live rent-free in a 50-square-meter apartment in Paris for one year. The winner will also get 8,000 Euros and ten weeks to furnish the apartment with items from eBay.

Unfortunately, the competition isn’t open to gay couples. The rules state: “The game is open to any couple composed of a male adult and a female adult.”

In response to criticisms, eBay said: “We are looking for people who are representative of the range of products sold on eBay.”

What? Last I checked, LGBT people use the same furniture, household products, clothes, and electronics that straight people use. In other words, I’m not buying their attempt at explaining their discrimination.

Please ask eBay France to allow LGBT couples to enter their anniversary competition.

A spokesman for eBay tried to deflect criticism by saying: “We don’t want to limit what the competition winners will buy to one gender or another.”

Are they enforcing that the winning couple buy both female-specific and male-specific products? eBay’s gender policing is as offensive as their homophobia. Apartment furnishings aren’t divided by gender. Plus, a straight couple may want only stereotypically female products or only stereotypically male products — should they be disqualified?

Their explanation should be insulting to LGBT people and straight people alike. What if the heterosexual couple who wins happens to like gender-neutral attire or doesn’t fit the norms that eBay is enforcing?

eBay only added fuel to this fire by adding this line: “We have quite a large vision of what counts as a couple: a mother and son could count. The only constraint is that the apartment only has one bedroom.”

Simply put, eBay is okay counting a mother and son or a father and daughter as a couple, but won’t count a gay couple that lives together (despite the fact that they’ll be living in a one-bedroom apartment).

Setting a requirement that only straight couples can win a competition is homophobic and discriminatory. eBay’s competition should be open to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: The email below came in from Richard Brewer-Hay, a Chief Corporate Blogger with eBay.

At eBay, we are sensitive to the diversity of our employees and customers. The competition, run by eBay in France, invited couples, comprising a man and a woman – irrespective of their sexual orientation or relationship, to live temporarily in an eBay apartment. It was intended to attract couples who would buy the broadest selection of goods on eBay from women’s shoes to electronic gadgets. However, after careful reflection, we realise that the definition of man and woman couple was too narrow as couples of the same sex could, of course, buy in such a broad and varied manner online.

eBay deeply regrets having offended members of our community, and as a result has clarified the rules of the competition so that it is open to any couple of any gender.