On Jan. 3, Garena Esports revealed a new stipulation to its Iron Solari League, a popular all-female tournament in the Philippines, that limited teams to one LGBT participant. But today it reversed the decision.
“After discussing the ruling with our partners and re-examining our approach, we have decided to remove these restrictions completely. This means that any player who self-identifies as female will be allowed to participate. We sincerely apologize for any offense we caused to the LGBT and gaming communities.”
The community response to the initial ruling was naturally fierce. Many hoped it was satire. Others just shook their heads in disgust.
Some tried to rationalize the decision based off the unique way Filipino culture handles gender identity. In the Philippines the word “bakla” describes effeminate and often gay men who sometimes, but not always, self-identify as women. The ruling could in theory be targeting teams with too many “bakla” players who still self-identify as men—though in esports there’s no known connection between gender and performance. And, either way, Garena never used that term in its original ruling, simply stating that teams were allowed only one “gay or transgender” woman each.
The decision and ensuing community response prompted Riot Games to enter the discussion.
And that seems to be the final word on the issue—Garena and the Iron Solari League are now in line with Riot’s stance.
Image via Riot Games