05/08/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New Xbox LIVE Policy: 'Gay' And 'Bi' Allowed In Player Names

Xbox LIVE gamers can now use the words "gay,""straight," "lesbian," "bi," and "transgender" in their nicknames and profiles. Previously, Microsoft, Xbox Live's parent company, banned players from using the words. The company claimed that it did not want players using the words in a derogatory way.

Under the new policy, players who want to use words to describe sexuality have to stick to those five words. Xbox LIVE announced heightened "stringency" and "enforcement" to enforce the new policy.

PCWorld explains the pressure from Xbox users that preceded Microsoft's reversal:

It took a while to get here. In 2008, a player named theGAYERgamer made his case public after Microsoft banned his Gamertag. In late February, a player claimed her account was suspended because her profile said she is a lesbian. This prompted a blog post from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, among other responses, so I'm guessing Microsoft finally felt there was enough pressure to make some policy changes.

Xbox LIVE General Manager Marc Whitten wrote about the new policy in a letter to users:

Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs. However we have since heard feedback from our customers that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox LIVE community.

Gamespot reports that in addition to references to sexuality, Xbox has also loosened their policy about using references of religion, nationality, and race in gamertags and profiles. But users who want to update their tags will have to pay up:

Gamers interested in flexing their new liberties can change their existing Xbox Live gamertags for the standard fee of 800 Microsoft points ($10) under the Edit Profile menu of the My Xbox section of the system's dashboard.